Biological Information: Dungeness Crab is a West Coast tradition with a fishery dating back to the late 1800’s. They have a unique life cycle that involves five different larvae stages before metamorphosing into mature crabs. The crabs molt annually allowing them to grow up to an inch during their molting season. Without an exoskeleton, they are left defenseless and can be found buried beneath the sand while waiting for their new shell to harden. Mating occurs immediately after molting with the male embracing the female for several days before mating begins. The female is able to carry 2.5 million eggs per season which she keeps safe by attaching them onto her body. When live, these crustaceans have a beautiful purple hue and are prized for the delicate, soft and mildly sweet flavor that is best appreciated fresh from the boat.
Sustainability: Dungeness Crab in California is considered a well managed fishery with strict regulations which only allow crabs to be caught for a select number of months each year. Traps have minimal bycatch and negligible environmental damage. All females are freed and only males with a carapaces greater than 5.75 inches can be retained. Relatively stable landings over the past 30 years suggest that the Dungeness Crab population is healthy, although no formal stock assessments have been made.