Thanksgiving Crab a Sure Thing, But Expensive

Ready, set, crab!

Bay Area Dungeness crab lovers will get their beloved crustaceans on time this year, but can expect to feel a bit more of a financial pinch.

Crabbers and fish processors reached an agreement Tuesday on a wholesale price of three dollars a pound.

That's .75 cents higher than last year, when a price dispute kept local crab off the table until after Thanksgiving.

"We've got a price this year, no delays," said fisherman Rich Fitzpatrick. "We're excited to get out there and get some crabs."

The announcement touched off a frenzy of activity along the docks of Fisherman's Wharf as fishermen loaded their boats with crab pots in time for Thursday's commercial crab season opener.

Fishermen planned to set traps on Wednesday with the first crab expected to hit the docks the next day.

They said early indications show there will be fewer crabs than in previous years. "We don't think there's going to be as many, but it's hard to say," said Fitzpatrick.

"Hopefully everybody will catch some crabs and we'll all make a good living." But the increase in the wholesale price is expected to boost prices for consumers. Inside the shed of Alioto-Lazio Fish Processors, co-owner Angel Cincotta warned consumers they may have to dig deeper into their wallets.

"God willing, we should be able to fill all those crab orders for Thanksgiving," said Cincotta. "It just will not be a cheap price this year, so everyone needs to expect a higher price."

Fitzpatrick said he understood consumers' frustration, but believed the price increase was justified.

"Everything else in the world goes up, and finally the price of crab went up and it takes a lot to run a boat," Fitzpatrick said.

Cincotta said last year's season delay devastated her Thanksgiving business and left a bad taste with customers.

But with fishermen ready to head to sea, she and her sisters were busy making calls to customers, and getting ready for a busy week.

"It's crab season," Cincotta said.

"We're online, we're ready to go, pots are on the boats."

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