SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — California’s commercial Dungeness crab seasons will be delayed this year, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Friday. The delays are being enacted in order to protect whales from becoming entangled in crab traps.
The opening of the commercial Dungeness crab fishing season will be delayed in Fishing Zones 3, 4, 5, and 6, an area of the state’s coastline that stretches from the Sonoma/Mendocino County line to the U.S.A.-Mexico border.
The delay is due to a large number of humpback whales in the area.
“Large aggregations of humpback whales continue to forage between Bodega Bay and Monterey and allowing the use of crab traps would increase the risk of an entanglement in those fishing zones,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “We will continue to work with both the recreational and commercial Dungeness crab fisheries to protect whales while working to maximize fishing opportunity.”
The season was scheduled to open on Nov. 15. No definite new date for the season to open has been announced. The CDFW said it anticipates that the next risk assessment will take place on or before Nov. 17.
At that time, Director Bonham is to “re-evaluate risk for the Dungeness crab fisheries,” according to the CDFW. The agency hopes that the assessment can inform the potential for a statewide commercial opening on Dec. 1.
The recreational take of Dungeness crabs using crab traps will also be temporarily restricted between the Sonoma-Mendocino County line and Lopez Point, Monterey County when that season opens on Nov. 4. Catching crabs using other means, including hoop nets and crab snares, will not be affected by the restriction.
That restriction is also due to the presence of humpback whales and the potential for entanglement, the CDFW said.