UPDATE APRIL 2016
COASTAL COMPASSION UPDATE:
There is some good and bad news to report on the plight of our local fishing fleet.
The good news is the commercial crab season is open and in some select fishing spots crabs are quite abundant. The crabs are safe to eat, taste great and are providing some much-needed relief to the coast and all the local businesses. Fresh crabs are for sale off the boats, and semi-trucks are once again loading crab for selling in stores all around the Bay Area. Thankfully the weather and seas have also been cooperating, and that has allowed not only the larger boats to crab but the small boats as well. After a five month hardship, Princeton Pillar Point Harbor is teaming with life once again.
The bad news is the crab will soon be molting and moving deeper offshore. The fishing window for crab this season is weeks, not months, and it will be impossible for the fleet to come even close to covering their losses this year. Add to that the fact that the salmon season is projected to be one of the worst on record. Sport fishing for salmon opened this last Saturday, and it is looking like the projections are spot on. In fact, Santa Cruz reported that of all the sport boats that went out of their harbor on opening day, only seven total fish were caught. One local sport fishermen stated that he and three friends went out to a flat reef twelve miles offshore and not only did his state-of-the-art fish finder show no signs of fish, but he also didn't see one bird over the water the whole day. They then motored 15 miles south and moved closer to the coast all the time monitoring their instruments and continued to observe little signs of life. In his words,
“that is one dead ocean out there”. If these two examples are the case up and down the coast, many commercial boats will likely not even try to fish this year for salmon. Their hope of making up losses from the bad crab season by fishing for salmon is not looking good.
It is clear that even though this small window of crab fishing will help our fishermen short term, in the bigger picture, significant changes are taking place in our local waters that going forward could significantly affect people and businesses who rely on this industry. If things don’t change for the better in the coming seasons, this problem will only expand, and our local fleet will have no choice but to move elsewhere or give up entirely. We all lose if that happens.
Stay tuned to Spirited Cause for more updates and news, and please support our local fishermen. Please come to the coast for some fresh local crab while they are still in season!