Crabs molt every year. After molting, the shells are soft, and have not filled in with flesh. Fishery managers face a constant challenge to set the start of the crab season at the right date. Too early, and there are too many softshell crabs. Too late, and crab fishers are deprived of needed revenue. Complicating the issue is annual variability and the potential for geographic variation along the Oregon Coast. This report covers an Oregon Fish Commission study to determine if a better opening date could be found for the season. Over 17,000 crabs were sampled in the winter of 1960/1961. At the end of the first year of a two-year study, it looked like a later opening date would be justified.
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