CALIFORNIA, 12/8/22 — The earliest possible opening date for California’s Dungeness crab fishery is now Dec. 31, according to a California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) assessment Wednesday. The fishery had originally been scheduled to open Nov. 15.
In Mendocino County, testing last month found low quality crab meat north of the county line, leading to an opening delay until at least Dec. 31 in Fishing Zones 1 and 2.
CDFW has determined that Fishing Zones 3 and 4, moving south down the coast from Point Arena, are still in danger of whale entanglement should the fishery open.
Foraging activity by humpback whales in particular can lead to entanglement risk with vertical lines and surface gear from recreational and commercial crab traps. In Zone 3, up to 78 humpback whales were spotted in surveys, and up to 64 were seen in Zone 4.
Low whale numbers in the northernmost zones meant a crab trap restriction in the recreational fishery was lifted in Mendocino County last month, but a recreational trapping ban continues south of the county line.
For more information related to the risk assessment process, visit CDFW’s Whale Safe Fisheries page or the crab fishery page.
Note: Kate Fishman covers the environment & natural resources for The Mendocino Voice in partnership with a Report For America. Her position is funded by the Community Foundation of Mendocino, Report for America, & our readers. You can support Fishman’s work with a tax-deductible donation here or by emailing [email protected]. Contact her at KFishman@mendovoice.com or at (707) 234-7735. The Voice maintains editorial control and independence.