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A Possible Record-breaking Dungeness Crab Season May Lower Prices for Consumers

Backyard barbecues, picnics in the park or neighborhood seafood boils all make perfect occasions to serve sweet, succulent Oregon Dungeness crab.

Presented by Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission May 26, 2023

So far this season, an astounding 30 million pounds of crab have been landed, the cost for a whole cooked crab has ranged from $5.99 per pound to $17.99 per pound at supermarkets in the Beaver State.

Crab fisherman didn’t see this bounty coming because this season had a troubling and delayed start. The usual start date is December 1, but this year the season wasn’t fully open until February 1, 2023

The crab didn’t have much of a meat fill and the shellfish was affected by the naturally occurring toxin, domoic acid (DA). In Dungeness crab, DA mostly collects in the viscera (internal organs) or “butter,” a part of the crab most people don’t eat.

“We always test the crab prior to opening the season,” says Kelly Corbett, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s commercial crab project leader. “The volume was there since the beginning of the season and never was an issue.”

Oregon crab experts predict this could be the second-biggest Dungeness crab year on record. First place goes to the 2004-2005 season with 33.7 million pounds landed. Only male crabs that measure 6.25” across the back can be harvested commercially. Recreational crabbers can take in any male crab that measures 5.75” or more. Why is this year so bountiful?

One theory suggests that a marine heatwave (warmer than usual water) in 2019 contributed to the crab growing faster and more of them surviving. Corbett didn’t have a theory but says the number of catchable crabs fluctuates throughout the season.

A purist when it comes to eating Dungeness crab, she consumes them without any sauce or butter. “Freshly cracked crab is a really rich product and delicious,” she says.

When serving Dungeness crab to guests, Corbett recommends buying half a pound to one pound per person.

Here is an easy crab boil recipe:

Dungeness Crab Boil


  • Four whole uncooked Dungeness crabs
  • One-half-pound small red potatoes
  • One-half-pound smoked sausage, sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • One large onion, cut into wedges
  • One-half-cup seafood seasoning
  • Four ears of corn, husked and broken in half


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes, sausages, onions, corn, and seafood seasoning. Boil until potatoes are thoroughly cooked, about 30 minutes.
  2. Gently drop crabs into pot and boil until crabmeat fully cooked, at least 10 minutes.
  3. Drain and serve.

DIY: Free Fishing Weekend, June 3 and June 4

On Saturday, June 3 and Sunday, June 4, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is hosting a free fishing weekend. You won’t need a license, but you have to abide by area closures, bag limits and all other regulations. Call the ODA Shellfish safety hotline at 1-800-448-2474 before going clamming or crabbing.

If you don’t know the first thing about crabbing, head to Kelly Brighton Marina in Rockaway Beach, Oregon. They’ll get you outfitted with everything you need. And even cook your legal catch for you.

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