Commercial Dungeness crab season delayed at least 15 days

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)

NEWPORT, Ore. (AP) — The traditional Dec. 1 opening of the commercial Dungeness crab season will be delayed by at least two weeks 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.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture says another round of crab-quality testing will occur in late November or early December. The results will determine if the season opens Dec. 16.

Commercial Dungeness crab is Oregon's most valuable fishery.

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