California’s commercial Dungeness crab season will be delayed this year, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife announced Friday. The delays were made to protect the whales from being caught in crab traps.
The opening of the commercial Dungeness crab fishing season will be delayed in Fishing Zones 3, 4, 5, and 6, an area of the state’s coastline that stretches from the Sonoma/Mendocino County line to the USA-Mexico border.
The delay was due to the large number of humpback whales in the area.
A Red Flag Warning is issued on Saturday and Sunday
“Large aggregations of humpback whales continue to forage between Bodega Bay and Monterey and allowing the use of crab traps will increase the risk of entanglement in those fishing areas,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. . “We will continue to work with the recreational and commercial Dungeness crab fisheries to protect the whales while working to maximize fishing opportunities.”
The season is scheduled to open Nov. 15. No definite new season opening date has been announced. CDFW said it expects the next risk assessment to take place on or before Nov. 17.
At that time, Director Bonham should “re-evaluate the risk to the Dungeness crab fisheries,” according to CDFW. The agency hopes the assessment will inform the potential for a statewide commercial opening on December 1.
Dungeness crab recreation using crab traps will also be temporarily restricted between the Sonoma/Mendocino County line and Lopez Point, Monterey County when the season begins Nov. 4. affected by the ban.
That restriction is also due to the presence of humpback whales and the potential for entanglement, CDFW said.