Sue Hardesty: Crabbing on the Oregon Coast | Nel’s New Day
This year, however, Christmas is upon us and the crab boats are still tied up to the docks with very few filled with pots because the crabs are too small. I’m beginning to think it’s time for crabbers to find another job, especially for those who like to live on the sharp edge. Like one crabber described, “It’s one of the last things where you can wake up in the morning and you have no idea what’s going to happen,” he says. “It’s the last cowboy-ish thing to do.”
So, Huston, we have a problem, and the problem is not with the crabs.
I have heard several reasons for the poor quality of crab such as the greedy fishermen have over-crabbed. Or the polluted run-off from farm caused deadly domoic acid in crabs. Then there are always the conspiracy theorists who say a small group of rich men is controlling the whole coast and calling all the shots. Or the one I agree with—global warming of the ocean waters has caused low oxygen which is now striking a big swath of “hot spots” off the West Coast causing extreme hypoxia, killing the crab and anything else. Even scarier is that low oxygen is no longer just at the seafloor; it has climbed up to half of the water column. Or so the NOAA Coastal Hypoxia Research Program has reported. One crabber dropped 120 pots and brought up four live crabs. Another pulled up gobs of dead crab and a few miles away pulled up gobs of healthy ones. This phenomenon has become so common in the last few years we now have a hypoxia season. Fire Season, Hypoxia Season, what’s next? Annihilation Season?