All commercial Dungeness crab fishery along California’s coast will be closed this month after humpback whales were found entangled in fishing gear, wildlife authorities said.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Wednesday that fishery zones from the Sonoma-Mendocino county life north to the Oregon state line will close at noon on April 20. The closure comes after the department had already announced that commercial crab traps would have to be removed from fishery zones from the Sonoma-Mendocino county line down south to the U.S.-Mexico border by Friday.
“We received reports of additional humpback whale entanglements and moved quickly to close the fishery to protect migrating humpback whales that are just starting to return to California waters,” said Director Bonham.
“While this poses an economic impact on certain sectors of our coastal fishing communities, it is important to protect both whales and the long-term viability of the commercial fishery.”
The department said it will work with the fishing fleet, researchers, and other agencies to better understand recent entanglements and mitigate the risks. Fishermen and mariners are asked to report if they come across any entangled whales.
At this time, the department said recreational fishery remains open statewide but may be subject to a future trap restriction as humpback whales return to California waters during the spring and summer.