Wyden, Merkley Introduce Bill to Support Oregon’s Dungeness Crab Fishing Industry

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley introduced legislation this week to continue a decades-long fishery management agreement that has been vital to Oregon’s Dungeness crab fishing industry.

The bipartisan bill would help ensure certainty for the industry and coastal communities by making permanent a tri-state state management agreement that has been successful since 1998. The states of Oregon, Washington and California cooperatively manage the West Coast crab fishery in federal waters under an agreement with the federal government. The agreement expired at the end of last year, creating uncertainty for the Dungeness crab fishing industry and the future of the widely supported state-based management agreement.

Last year, Oregon’s Dungeness crab industry contributed $51 million to the state’s economy. Crab fishers in the state harvest an average of 16.8 million pounds of crab per year, supporting thousands of maritime jobs on Oregon’s coast. 

“The Dungeness crab fishery promotes Oregon jobs and brings business to our coast,” Wyden said. “I’m going to be working to build support for this bill, which allows Oregon to keep managing the Dungeness crab fishery in a way that ensures it remains a success.”

“Oregon’s Dungeness crab fishery is an essential component of our coastal economy and creates good-paying jobs our communities rely on,” Merkley said. “It’s time to give our Oregon crab industry the long-term certainty it needs to succeed.”

Crab populations can fluctuate by tens of millions of pounds between years, depending on food availability and ocean conditions. Managers must be able to coordinate between states to ensure that conservation goals are achieved and the fishery continues to support coastal jobs in Oregon, Washington and California.

Senators Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., are cosponsors of the bill.