Bay Area Dungeness crab fishing season delayed to protect whales

Bay Area crabbing season delayed to protect humpback whales, sea turtles
Photo courtesy of the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

Commercial Dungeness crab fishing season is delayed in California, with too-low crab meat yield prompting restrictions off the coast of Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties, and a high number of humpback whales prompting restrictions off the coast from Mendocino to the Mexico border, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

Commercial crab fishing north of Mendocino has been delayed until Dec. 16, pending meat testing. For coastal areas along the rest of the state, the CDFW anticipates another assessment of the presence of humpback whales, which can become entangled in crab fishing gear, on Dec. 5. A high number of whales in fishing areas could prompt further delay.

Recreational crab trap fishing is set to open in Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties at 9 a.m. on Nov. 28. However, the temporary recreational crab trap restriction continues for the rest of the state due to the presence of humpback whales.

Recreational crabbers are being reminded that Dungeness crab by other methods, including hoop nets and crab snares, is allowed during a temporary trap restriction.

The California Dungeness Crab Working Group is calling upon the state and fisherman to work together to authorize the use of pop-up fishing gear as a way to prevent whale entanglements and provide additional fishing opportunities.

“We look forward to a day when whale-safe Dungeness crab caught by pop-up gear is available for Californian’s tables which will support fishermen’s livelihoods and the safety of whales and sea turtles,” said Geoff Shester, Oceana’s California campaign director and senior scientist, and a member of the California Dungeness Crab Working Group.

More information on Oceana’s campaign to prevent entanglements can be found here.