Ken Bates, Vice President of the Humboldt Fishermen's Marketing Association, reports that as of 4 p.m. on Jan. 6, Oregon fishermen and processors negotiated a price for Dungeness crabs at $2.875 a pound, an even split of the $2.75 processors offered, and the original price of $3.00 paid since Nov. 15, 2016.
In his press release, Bates added "Pacific Seafood Group ... could find that it might take a significant amount of time to regain the status lost in the fishing community by their actions to lower the crab price. Only time will tell."
District 7 boats are waiting out the weekend's storm to untie, according to Bates.
As crab boats remain tied to docks from Alaska to Mexico, fishermen are feeling the pinch of a delayed season. West Coast crabbers have gone on strike in solidarity after Pacific Seafoods, one of the largest buyers of seafood in the region, dropped its per-pound buying price from $3 to $2.75 for Humboldt County fishermen just as District 7 boats were set to begin the season.
Brandt Brockschmidt-Apiki, pictured above, recently moved to California after working in Alaska fisheries for eight years. He took to the corner of Fourth and F streets this afternoon to protest the price cuts, saying they affect not just fishermen, but small businesses such as canneries and dive boats.
"Crab fishermen have had to put up with a lot," said Brockschmidt-Apiki, referring to last year's aborted season due to a domoic acid scare. "There's a lot of anticipation that's built up. Despite what's arisen, the unity is important."
Currently the only boats fishing on the West Coast belong to tribal groups, but at least one of those groups has joined the strike, according to a press release from the Humboldt Fishermen's Marketing Association. Reached for comment this morning, HFMA spokesperson Ken Bates confirmed the Quinault Indian Nation has joined in solidarity with West Coast fishermen. Negotiations were ongoing in Oregon this morning in an attempt to break the stalemate.
Brockschmidt-Apiki said reception to his one-man protest has been very warm and that he has counted 250 honks and an occasional "Hell Yeah!" from his corner since he posted up around noon.
"We [fishermen] tend to be more independent...this is something that has broken that trend," he said, referring to the strike.
From the Humboldt Fishermen's Marketing Association:
January 4, 2017
Press Release from Humboldt Fishermen's Marketing Association
First Nation Fishermen Join West Coast Crab Strike
First Nation tribal fishermen from Washington State have joined the West Coast crab fleet “tie-up” for the re-instatement of the $3.00 per pound price for fresh Dungeness crabs. West Coast crab fishermen had been receiving $3.00 per pound from all West Coast fish buyers, since November 15, 2016. On Monday, December 26, 2016,one large west coast fishing industry processor instructed its subsidiary in Eureka, California to reduce the price paid to fishermen in California’s District 7, just as those fishermen were ready to go to work.
What was perceived by fishermen and other fish buyers as an attempt to cause a cascade of lower crab prices coast wide, has instead caused the largest tie-up of fishermen in the history of the west coast Dungeness crab fishery. Crab fishermen, up and down the coast, have held port meetings each day and are resolved to stay tied up until the buyer that created this mess, realizes their mistake, and pays the original $3.00 price.