High winds, choppy waters delay crab season 

No one asked Mother Nature if she was ready for crab season. Crab boats remained docked today as high winds and choppy waters muddled the California coast, prompting a small craft advisory.

The unfavorable conditions comes on the heels of a Thursday announcement by state health officials that most seafood tested in waters affected by the Nov. 7 oil spill in San Francisco Bay is safe to eat and ready to be fished.

"We're feeling a bit frustrated by all this," said Zeke Grader, spokesman for the Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman's Association. "We encounter (unfavorable) weather conditions every year, but this time it comes just as the tests come back on the crab."

The small craft advisory could continue through Sunday and possibly into early next week, according to the National Weather Service.

"Most fisherman are holding out until Sunday," Grader said.

He said boats could go out in this weather, but it's "tough when you're trying to throw 100-pound traps in the water and trying to retrieve them when the winds are blowing and rocking the boat."

Bay Area fishermen voted unanimously on Nov. 10 to request a delay of local Dungeness crab season from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger because of concerns regarding nearly 60,000 gallons of oil spilled into the Bay when a container vessel knocked into a Bay Bridge tower.

Crab season was scheduled to begin Nov. 15, two days after the governor banned fishing in and around the Bay. Though the ban did not include most crab fishing areas, crab fisherman decided to hold off on fishing until health officials deemed all local seafood safe for human consumption.

"I think the crab are just about clean, we have no reason to doubt (the state's) test results," Grader said.

Grader said there is still concern with fishing for herring. He said there could be pockets of oil at the bottom of the Bay and that fishing nets might scrape the bottom and mix oil with the fish.

But Grader said Dungeness and Rock crab should be ready to serve at local restaurants.

"Most crab were outside the oiled area and now the oil has dissipated, so we should be okay," he said.

Crab season runs through June, but the best time for crabbing is from November to mid-January, according to officials.

— Bay City News

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