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Dungeness Crab Season To Begin Dec. 1 Amid Coast Guard Helicopter Lawsuit

Nick Edwards

Oregon's Dungeness Crab season is set to begin on schedule this year December 1. The Coast Guard rescue helicopter based in Newport is set to be decommissioned December 15th, which has commercial crabbers and their families worried.

The non-profit organization, Newport Fisherman's Wives, filed a federal lawsuit seeking an injunction against the Coast Guard's decision to close the air rescue facility. The City of Newport and Port of Newport have joined the lawsuit. The closure is for budget reasons and the Coast Guard says helicopters can be dispatched from North Bend and Astoria to respond to emergencies. Newport City Manager Spencer Nebel says the Fisherman's Wives intimately understand the dangers of commercial fishing and crabbing.

Nebel: "They certainly represent commercial fishermen that are really put at peril every time they go out to sea and they were quite frankly, the primary reason we ended up with an air station in Newport, originally."

Commercial crabbers are allowed to set their gear three days before the season opens. Crab boats can head out as early as this Friday, November 28.

South Carolina is also set to lose Coast Guard facilities. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden has threatened to stall the promotion of the Coast Guard Rear Admiral until the matter is resolved in both states.

The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners is meeting Monday, Nov. 24 at 1:30 P.M. to vote on whether to join the federal lawsuit against the Coast Guard.

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