SAN FRANCISCO (CBS-SF) – Chuck Pappotto has spent years navigating the roller coaster ride of Northern California's Dungeness crab season.
Some years the catches have been plentiful. Other years the fall storms have battered the coast, putting the boats and their crews in jeopardy, forcing them to stay in port.
And there have been seasons disrupted by price dispute with processors over what they would pay for the fishermen's catch.
But never has he seen a year like 2015 when Mother Nature has forced the season to be delayed by weeks by a toxic algae bloom.
It leaves him wondering whether this year is an anomaly or a sign of times to come.
"We are the people who have been fundamentally damaged," said Pappotto of the Bodega Bay Fisherman's Association. "It's important for us to understand whether this is an anomaly or whether it's a trend we need to deal with in our business planning for the future."
California officials delayed the Nov. 15 start of its commercial crab after finding dangerous levels of a toxin. Further testing still has not convinced officials to reverse their decision. Researchers say the crabs will have to test clean for two consecutive weeks before they will declare them safe.
The crab fishermen agree.
"We're not going to bring them in until they're perfectly safe to eat," said Larry Collins of the Crab Boat Association Of San Francisco. "When that happens, I sure hope the public backs us up and goes and eats crab three times a week."
for more features.