Lagging Dungeness crab season experiences an upturn

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The Dungeness crab season that started out looking to be a bust has taken a surprising turn, with crabbers landing close to 17 million pounds in the first 12 weeks of the 8.5-month long season, said Hugh Link, director of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission.

The season was twice delayed at the start in December 2012 when crab quality tested low. The season finally got under way on Dec. 31, but initial reports by fishermen were grim.

Such reports, it turns out, have turned out to be premature.

"Worth in excess of $43 million dollars to crabbers from Astoria to Brookings, the harvest has already exceeded the 2011/2012 season's total of 14.2 million pounds, and is some 5 million pounds above the long-term 'average', which is slightly above 12 million pounds," Link wrote in a news release issued Friday.

Brookings fishermen are leading the catch β€” a first in many years β€” with landings of 4.7 million pounds valued at about $12.1 million. The ports of Newport, Astoria and Charleston round out the top four ports, from a production and catch-value standpoint, Link said.