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Oregon finalizes first-ever management plan for Dungeness crabs

Brian Bull
In this 2017 photo, Ryan Rogers drops freshly delivered Dungness crabs into a kettle at the Fisherman's Market.

Oregon’s Dungeness crab industry wants seafood lovers to know that it’s taking steps to make sure the fishery is sustainable. That’s led to the creation of the state’s first-ever Dungeness crab management plan.

Dungeness crab season is a highlight for many Northwest seafood lovers, and the people who catch the tasty crustaceans want to be careful not to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. That means only harvesting crabs of a certain size and at a certain time of year.

Making sure there’s always a “next” harvest is called sustainability, and it’s at the heart of a new management plan developed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Tim Novotny is with the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission, which helped develop the document.

“All of it is a way to ensure that we’re basically not over-fishing the fishery," he said. "It’s all built into this management system.”

Novotny said being able to document their efforts at sustainability will help market the product to consumers. But he said won't fundamentally change the way most crab boats operate.

"(There's) nothing really new or landmark-breaking, but it's just a matter of taking all the stuff we've been doing, and putting it there for people to see," said Novotny.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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