Thanks to Cindy Strube and the indispensable CropMobster for the reminder that the fishermen who catch our beloved Dungeness crab every year remain in need of as much assistance as we can provide them. Please help if you’re able.
Strube posted an alert on CropMobster on Feb. 6, pointing out that local crab fishermen remain in need of assistance while their boats are docked due to the detection of high levels of demoic acid in the area’s crab population. Though levels of the neurotoxin have been falling, officials will not consider opening crab season until levels in crab tested have dropped below 30 parts per million two weeks in a row. That has not yet occurred, and missing the all-important holiday sales period from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day – tremendously profitable and important to the local industry – was a huge blow.
Donations may also be made via the Sonoma County Parks Foundation website. Be sure to select the special purpose for your donation from the dropdown menu that says “I want my donation to be designated toward assistance for Spud Point crab fishermen/deckhands.”
The Spud Point Marina has also turned into an emergency food pantry for the time being, according to the Press Democrat.
Fishermen and deckhands have been relying on local aid agencies, businesses, the generosity of area restaurants and other organizations but cannot come close to replacing the income lost thus far this season. Estimates of the economic loss to the community have exceeded $4 million by January.
The PD also reported this week that the Small Business Administration was now offering low-interest disaster loans to commercial fishermen adversely affected by the closure, which the paper called the fishermen’s “first bit of good news.”
Unfortunately, these are loans which must be repaid, with interest, so it remains to be seen of how much assistance the program will provide the fishing community.
Response among the community to the news was, according to writer Mary Callahan, “muted.”
Callahan quoted fisherman Joe Mantua: “The only thing that I have a problem with is, you know, it’s a Band-Aid. Without income coming in, how do you repay a loan?”
If we truly wish to create a sustainable food and ag system that is both resilient and just in the challenging years ahead, we will need to find the resources to support our fishermen through the down times like these, so they may thrive in better days. The health and well-being of our community depends upon it.
Please donate or lend a hand if you can.