Scowering the deapths of the Pacific shelf, Dungeness Crab come across a circular trap. They smell the fish, our bait, see other crabs inside. They navigate around the outside, enter a one-way door to join the party inside. Once inside, large crabs cannot exit, a micro habitat occurs, one species attracting another, crabs, fish, shrimp, octopus, sea stars, anemonies.
By the end of the season, the trap and rope are covered with sea weed, fish eggs, shrimp...each time we pull the traps up to collect the crab, we get a tiny glimps of this underwater world.
Like other food production, this magic is accompanied by a political struggle. Crab fishermen are not limited to a certain number of traps. Some fisherman run very large boats with thousands of traps. In the first three weeks of a seven month season, these boats take 90% of the yearly catch. With such volume, they sell to a large crab processing plant where they are cooked and frozen. These fisherman then move on up the coast, dropping their traps in Oregon, Washington, all the way to their home ports in Alaska.
In contrast, fishermen from Bolinas have small boats and fish close to home with fewer traps for the entire season. Small catches trickle in for months. We sell live crab at the local dock.