MENDOCINO Co., 11/8/21 — Dungeness crab season has officially begun, but crabbers will need to be mindful of new limits on how many traps they can use in an effort to reduce the amount of marine life that get entangled in trap gear. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced last week that people would be able to start recreationally taking Dungeness crabs starting Saturday, Nov. 6 with no limitations on the use of hoop nets and crab snares.
However, crabbers will be limited to 10 traps that have to be serviced at least every nine days. They also have to get a recreational crab trap validation for $2.25 at https://wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Fishing or a licensed retailer. Recreational crab traps will also have “to have a single standardized main buoy which measures at least 5 inches by 11 inches and a single red marker buoy that measures 3 inches by 5 inches,” according to the CDFW release.
All of this is in an effort to prevent entanglements of humpback whales and leatherback sea turtles. The Dungeness crab season was delayed after researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) observed dozens of Humpback whales and a handful of Pacific leatherback sea turtles foraging off the coast in October.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a warning to those crabbing between the Sonoma/Mendocino county line to Point Reyes stating crab from that region may not be safe to eat because of elevated domoic acid levels. Domoic acid renders the crab meat toxic to eat. The full press release from CDFW is below: