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Dungeness crabbing season to open Jan. 15

Dungeness crab sit in a bin near a boiler at Fisherman's Wharf Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, in San Francisco. Dungeness crab could be harder to come by if fishers from Canada to Northern California continue their strike over the purchase price. The strike started Dec. 28, 2016, after Pacific Choice Seafood in Humboldt County, Calif., offered to pay $2.75 a pound for the tasty crustacean. Crabbers whose seasons had already opened had negotiated a price of $3 per pound. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

ASTORIA, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says the Dungeness crab fishery from Cape Blanco to the Columbia River and into Washington state will open Jan. 15.

The fishery traditionally starts Dec. 1, but was delayed to give the crabs more time to fill with meat.

Fisheries managers use "meat fill" tests to determine how well the Dungeness have rebounded from the late summer shedding of their shells in a process called molting.

After the molt, the crabs fill with water as their shells harden and they grow new muscle.

The minimum threshold is 25 percent meat, meaning a 2-pound crab must yield at least a half-pound of meat.

Hugh Link is executive director of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission. He tells The Daily Astorian that crabbers aren't thrilled with the delay, but understand it is necessary for a healthy market.

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