Interviews and Impacts of Crab Fishery Closure

Post by EMP 510 Guest Bloggers: Teddy Masters, Lucy Cultura, Rodilei Silva Morais

The featured article in KQED News, “Dungeness Crab Season Stays Closed” by Adia White, discusses the impacts of this year’s closure of California’s Dungeness crab season – as a result of toxic contamination – on the livelihoods of crab fishermen and consumer confidence. Concerns over domoic acid, a neurotoxin linked to seizures and death in humans, has motivated the state’s Fish and Wildlife Department to shutdown the crab season for over three months. CrabPotsBoat

Fishermen invested in the Dungeness crab industry have faced large-scale losses to their seasonal revenues, forcing many to diversify their income. Some have had to rely on other less lucrative fisheries while others have had to find work unrelated to fisheries, ranging from Christmas tree farming to construction. The industry itself is worth approximately $60 million with the lion’s share of those profits accrued between the months of November and January. Because of this, the three month closure of the crab fishery has severely crippled the industry, prompting calls for federal relief funding to support those impacted.

Implications of the contamination and subsequent shutdown have extended to consumers. A reduction in the number of local fishermen as a result of the shutdown may lead to a proliferation in Dungeness crab imports to meet consumer demands. Such imports run the risk of being less fresh and caught less sustainably than their local counterparts. Further, perceptions of toxic contamination are likely to reduce consumer confidence in buying Dungeness crab products, at least for the near future.

This article draws on the interview as a method to unpack the human dimensions of the toxic contamination of California’s Dungeness and the shutdown of its fishing season. While interviewing is not directly referenced in text within the article itself, it is unlikely that the author would be able to elaborate on the struggles of crab fishermen or the effects of toxic contamination on consumer confidence and the crab industry without such a method.