The Marine Studies Initiative is about opportunities for our ocean and our world.

Eder Family Fund for Dungeness Crab Research

Proposal Award Announcement

Dungeness crab is an important part of the Northwest’s seafood heritage. Commercially harvested since the 1800’s, Dungeness crab is Oregon’s most valuable ‘single species’ fishery. The Eder Family Fund for Dungeness Crab Research supports research related to this iconic species.


The proposal awardees have been selected. The projects are listed below.

Understanding crab movement in varied habitats and how it relates to food availability

Sarah Henkel 

Associate Professor, Senior Research, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Integrative Biology

Curtis Roegner

NOAA Fisheries, Point Adams Research Station, Hammond, OR



Dungeness crab distribution and movements are of particular interest due to their high commercial and recreational value. They are both abundant and highly mobile. However, we find a mismatch in the amount of benthic prey on the Oregon shelf and energetic requirements of the estimated biomass of Dungeness. We hypothesize that their high mobility and the success of the fishery occur because crabs are constantly foraging for limited resources. We expect crabs will be less mobile in areas with natural/artificial reefs that could provide feeding opportunities. We will compare crab residency at a sandy site south of the Mouth of the Columbia River to that around rocky reef in the Cape Falcon Marine Reserve using acoustic telemetry. We will compare crab movements between the sites with different habitats and examine the implications for crab foraging and place-based protections.

Observing the presence of harmful algae on Heceta Bank, Oregon and its relation  with domoic acid

Xiuning Du

Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Newport Oregon



The harmful algae Pseudo-nitzschia is historically present on the west coast of the United States, and is known to produce a biotoxin domoic acid which can lead to closures of commercial and recreational shellfish and Dungeness crab fisheries. The availability of toxic Pseudo-nitzschia cells in the nearby environment where crabs live likely induces prolonged impacts on crab safe harvest. This project aims to collect Pseudo-nitzschia data from near-bottom waters in the Heceta Bank area – a harmful algal bloom hotspot in Oregon. Work will be carried out through collaborations with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and local crab fishermen. This project will provide information about Pseudo-nitzschia in near-bottom waters and how its annual blooms affect the valuable Dungeness crab fishery in Oregon.

Building capacity for fishermen first aid safety training

Laurel Kincl 

Associate Professor, Program in Environmental and Occupational Health, OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences

Viktor Bovbjerg

Professor, Program in Epidemiology, OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences



In addition to the risks of severe injury or death in commercial fishing, our research suggests that for every severe injury there are many less severe injuries, which may nonetheless lead to lost work time or early retirement. Prevention of these injuries is the first goal, but when injuries can’t be prevented, rapid and effective first aid can have a profound impact on health outcomes. First aid courses specifically tailored to austere settings such as found in commercial fishing are more likely to provide the skills needed to provide effective first aid to fishermen. As part of an ongoing project, we have developed and pilot tested such a course with a Wilderness Emergency Education expert – Fishermen First Aid and Safety Training (FFAST). This new project will build on that by: demonstrating the feasibility of providing locally-based FFAST on the Oregon coast, documenting the effectiveness of locally-based FFAST, and establishing a sustainable, scalable process for providing FFAST.