The start of California’s commercial Dungeness crab season has been delayed for the sixth year in a row.
The start of California’s commercial Dungeness crab season has been delayed for the sixth year in a row to protect humpback whales from entanglement in traps and buoy lines.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife said commercial crabbing will be delayed until at least Dec. 1. The situation will be reassessed on or before Nov. 17.
This is the latest delay for the start of the commercial season, which traditionally begins in mid-November for waters between the Mendocino county line and the Mexican border.
“Large aggregations of humpback whales continue to search between Bodega Bay and Monterey and allowing the use of crab traps will increase the risk of entanglement in those fishing areas,” said Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. .Bonham in a statement on Friday.
Recreational taking of Dungeness crab using traps will be temporarily restricted in some areas when the recreational season opens on Nov. 4, officials said. Recreational crabbers can use other methods, including hoop nets and crab snares.
The commercial crab industry is one of California’s major fisheries and shellfish are especially popular during the holidays.
Humpback whales can be caught in vertical ropes connected to heavy commercial traps, which they can drag for months, leaving them injured, starving or so exhausted that they drown.
Humpback whales migrate north each year from Mexico’s Baja California peninsula where they give birth to calves. In the spring, summer and fall humpbacks feed on anchovies, sardines and krill off the coast of California before returning south.