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Why You Should Buy More Crab: Dramatic Drop in Dungeness Crab Price Threatens Livelihoods of Crab Fishers


The Seattle Times reported that due to a dramatic decrease in resale price, crab fishers are making a mere 2 dollars per pound of Dungeness crab they catch. Last year, grocers were selling crab for anywhere from $18.99 to $24.50 per pound; this year, they’re selling crab for as little as $5.99 per pound. This constitutes a drop in price of over two-thirds.

Why are prices dropping?

Industry leaders cite a variety of reasons for why prices are dropping:

  • Many consumers simply stopped buying Dungeness crab when prices were too high.
  • Covid-era restrictions and economic stressors ushered in a wave of restaurant closures and tamped down customer numbers for restaurants that remained, resulting in drastically reduced crab purchases from processors.
  • The high inflation rate plaguing the American economy led many consumers to tighten their financial belts, foregoing pricey crab for cheaper alternatives.
  • Excess inventory of Dungeness crab from last year’s harvest was flash-frozen, flooding the market with extra crab this year.

What does the price drop mean for crab fishers?

Whereas Dungeness crab fishers were making $5.50 per pound of crab last year, they are earning $2 to $2.25 a pound this year – reportedly the lowest price the industry has seen in a decade.

What other economic factors are affecting commercial crab fishing?

  • High fuel prices. In addition to the drop in price, commercial crab fishers are facing a dramatic increase in the price of fuel: operators were paying $1.91 per gallon in 2020, but now pay a staggering $4.49 per gallon in 2023.
  • Bait is more expensive. The price that crab fishers are paying for bait has increased 35%.
  • Crab pots are more expensive. Due to a marked increase in metal prices, crab fishers are reporting a 50% increase in the cost of crab pots.

What can consumers do to help crabbers during these tough economic times?

Simple – buy more crab. Even though prices are at record lows, the crab fishing industry needs to increase the amount of crab caught and sold if they have any hope of making up for lost profits and high costs.

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