MENDOCINO Co., 12/21/23 – Crabbers and Dungeness crab enthusiasts will kick off the new year with their first taste of commercially caught California crabs when commercial crabbing opens on Jan. 5, 2024 in Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties.
Per our previous coverage, recreational crabbing for Dungeness crabs opened on Dec. 16 from the Mendocino Coast just north of Point Arena to the Oregon border. Commercial crabbing continues to be delayed to reduce the potential of migrating whales and other species that may become entangled in fishing gear. However, that all changes on Jan. 5 at 8:01 a.m.
The North Coast will be the first region in California to open up to commercial crabbing, as it remains restricted from the Sonoma-Mendocino county line to the U.S.-Mexico border.
Here’s the official announcement:
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will open the commercial Dungeness crab fishery from the Oregon state line to the Sonoma/Mendocino county line (Fishing Zones 1 and 2) under a Fleet Advisory beginning Jan. 5, 2024 at 12:01 a.m. with a 64-hour pre-soak to begin on Jan. 2, 2024 at 8:01 a.m. The commercial fishery will remain delayed from the Sonoma/Mendocino county line to the U.S./Mexico border (Fishing Zones 3, 4, 5 and 6) until at least the next risk assessment due to elevated numbers of humpback whales resulting in increased entanglement risk.
CDFW is also 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 with crab traps. The recreational trap restriction will be in effect until at least the next risk assessment. The use of recreational crab traps in Fishing Zones 1, 2 and 5 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.
CDFW anticipates the next risk assessment will take place on or around Jan. 11, 2024, at which time Director Charlton H. Bonham will re-evaluate available data to inform the potential for a commercial fishery opener in Fishing Zones 3-6 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.