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Pirates of Bodega Bay


Pirates of Bodega Bay

By Jim Kelly

A little-known fact is, Pirates in the 17th and 18th Centuries created one of the first democracies, voting for their captains and quartermasters, and voting them out if things didn’t work out. They weren’t made to walk the plank afterwards; they were merely demoted to the rank of members of the crew.

Amazingly these high ideals are still held today, at least by the commercial fishing fleet in Bodega Bay. On Feb. 15, a hearty battle broke out (only verbal) among the fishermen who have recently seen their world fall apart with the dispute over tainted crab. It was somewhat like a manly square dance with captains and crew changing sides frequently but in the end, they all came to an agreement.

Bodega Bay commercial fishermen, as a solid group, decided to hold to their guns (cannons) and refuse to go crabbing as long as there are tainted crabs in the waters. Their latest test, taken on Feb. 6, showed crabs above the safety margin for domoic acid. Their decision to continue to hold their boats back was made in the interest of the public’s health.

While this may seem to be the obvious thing to do for thinking folks, it doesn’t square with the Fish and Wildlife decision to let sport fishermen pull in crabs from Point Reyes south, a mere 12 miles from Bodega Bay. Keep in mind, crabs can, and do, travel seven to ten miles in search of food.

The Executive Committee of the Dungeness Crab Task Force (DCTF) held a meeting on Feb. 16, to decide what recommendations they would make to the California Department of Health Director, Dr. Karen Lee Smith in regards to following suit and opening commercial fishing to the area Fish and Wildlife opened up to sport fishermen on Jan. 1st.

After hearing input from the commercial fishermen and public at large, the seven-person committee voted unanimously to pass on opening commercial fishing from Point Reyes south.

Their recommendation to Dr. Smith will be to either open commercial fishing state wide or by districts for the following reasons.

1. Protection of the Public.

2. To avoid a concentration of crab cages around Point Reyes for the protection of migrating whales.

3. To conform to proven, existing rules of safety for consumers.

Bodega Bay commercial fishermen will continue to pull test crabs from the water until they come up with two clean tests in a row.

Kudos to the Pirate Fleet of Bodega Bay.