MENDOCINO Co., 12/7/23 — Restrictions on recreational crab traps will be lifted starting 8 a.m. on Dec. 16 along the Mendocino Coast north of Point Arena to the Oregon border, according to today’s announcement from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, but the start of the commercial Dungeness crab season will be delayed in all zones until at least Dec. 21, when the agency will re-assess the potential risks to other marine species including high numbers of migrating humpback whales.
CDFW has delayed the start of commercial crab season in previous years to reduce the overlap between migrating whales and other species who might be entangled in fishing gear, and plans to evaluate the current restrictions around Dec. 21.
Here’s the announcement from the agency, with links to additional details:
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is continuing the temporary recreational crab trap restriction from the Sonoma/Mendocino county line to Lopez Point, Monterey County, (Fishing Zones 3 and 4) due to the presence of humpback whales and the potential for entanglement of humpback whales and leatherback sea turtles with trap gear. The recreational trap restriction will be in effect until at least the next risk assessment. The temporary trap restriction currently in effect in Fishing Zone 1 (Cape Mendocino to the Oregon state line) will be lifted at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, at which time the use of recreational crab traps in Fishing Zones 1, 2, 5 and 6 will be allowed. A Fleet Advisory remains in effect for the recreational fishery for all Fishing Zones (1-6). CDFW reminds recreational crabbers that take of Dungeness crab by other methods, including hoop nets and crab snares, is allowed during a temporary trap restriction. CDFW also encourages recreational crabbers to implement best practices, as described in the Best Practices Guide.
The commercial Dungeness crab fishery in all Fishing Zones (1-6) will remain delayed due to high numbers of humpback whales and a recent confirmed entanglement of a leatherback sea turtle in commercial Dungeness crab fishing gear lost in a previous season.
CDFW anticipates the next risk assessment will take place on or around Dec. 21, 2023, at which time Director Charlton H. Bonham will re-evaluate available data to inform the potential for a commercial fishery opener and modification of the recreational trap restriction. For more information related to the risk assessment process, please visit CDFW’s Whale Safe Fisheries page. For more information on the Dungeness crab fishery, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab.