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Live Dungeness Crab in August??

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A trip to the local Asian market recently featured live Dungeness crab at $4.99/lb. I was surprised to see this, as live Dungeness are not yet in season in the USA. Crab season in the USA generally comes in late Fall, Winter and early Spring, (however these crabs were imported from Canada).

I had thought that the Dungeness crab season occurred during the colder time of year because of the colder waters which produced crabs that are meatier, heavier, and more full of body fat. Although tempted to buy, I was afraid to waste my money on them fearing that these crabs had little meat in their shell, and were also of an inferior meat quality than when compared to that of a colder time of the year. Is my reasoning sound? If my reasoning behind crab season (and perhaps the California Spiny lobster season) were true, then why would the same qualities not hold for Maine lobster (which is sold year around)?

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  1. Don't know where you live, but in NYC Dungeness reaches its highest prices in summer. Asian markets here have sold them as much as $12/lb and more. I've never had dungeness in summer, so I can't speak about the quality. In summer and fall, lobster is at its lowest price, so I only switch over to crabs in Nov or so. By then crab prices are down. In late winter, dungeness are usually the same price as lobster, or less.

    1. "Dungeness crab season" depends on where they're collected. Alaskan Dungeness crab are harvested from May through November and they're shipped, both frozen and live, all over the world. They are available live all along the west coast from Northern (esp. San Francisco) California to the Seattle Washington region this time of year.

      1. I live in SEA, and we eat Dungeness crab july-sept., then it comes back in late Nov-January. This is prime local crabbing season for the everyman now. Get a friend with a boat, and head out with the crab ring and a fish head (or lowly can of cat food!). 6 per person is the limit, and always hearing of people getting that number.

        Just got it on sale last week for $4.99 lb. as well.

        One of many reasons to love living in the great NW!

        1 Reply
        1. re: gingershelley

          We here in Los Angeles are dependent on the Dungeness crab's commercial harvest season, as they are seldom found in numbers much south of San Francisco or Morro Bay . . . therefore, what biological criteria influences/ determines/ regulates their commercial (not private) legal harvest periods?

          I know that Dungee's are caught only in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, and that commercially fishing for them is ruled regionally by their respective state's coastal fish and game laws (I had thought that opening dates were earliest in Northern Calif, then opening in turn sequentially, while moving up the coast). . . . but what guidelines actually determines these opening dates?

          I recall through newspaper articles, that last year's 2011 commercial season opener was delayed until Dec 01 for SFO and Portland, and it had ended in late March. I did not know that commercial crab fishing was allowed in Alaska during the Summer months.