California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham issued a memo today delaying the northern California commercial Dungeness crab season due to poor crab meat quality test results. The delay includes Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 (Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties).
The northern Dungeness crab fishery is delayed until 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, Dec.16, 2018 pending another round of test results tentatively scheduled for Dec. 1. If these results indicate good quality, the fishery will open and be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018.
“Last season, the northern Dungeness crab fishery was delayed until Jan. 15, the latest a quality delay can be extended,” said CDFW Environmental Scientist Christy Juhasz. “Results from our recent test are very similar to last year indicating that this delay may be extended past Dec. 16.”
If the next round of quality tests remain low, the CDFW Director has the authority to delay the season an additional 15 days until Dec. 31. Under new legislation, CDFW can continue testing until Jan. 15.
Crab are evaluated to compare meat weight to total crab weight to determine whether they are ready for harvest under testing guidelines established by the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee. If results indicate poor crab quality, the CDFW director may delay the fishery under authority of Fish and Game Code Section 8276.2.
The southern Dungeness crab fishery opened on Nov. 15, except for the area from the southern boundary of Bodega Head State Marine Reserve, Sonoma County (38° 18’ N. latitude) north to the Sonoma/Mendocino county line (38° 46.125’ N. latitude) which was delayed due to domoic acid. Upon a recommendation from health agencies that domoic acid no longer poses a risk to public health, the CDFW director may provide a minimum 72-hours’ notice before the gear-setting period and avoid a gear set date that lands on state and federal holidays.
No vessel may take or land crab in an area closed for a meat quality delay (i.e., Fish and Game districts 6, 7, 8 and 9) or within an area closed for a domoic acid delay. In addition, any vessel that takes, possess onboard, or lands crab from ocean waters outside of a delayed area is prohibited from participating in the crab fishery in a delayed area for 30 days following the opening of those areas. This applies to any delayed areas in Oregon, Washington and California.
For more information, please see CDFW’s Frequently Asked Questions regarding the 2018-19 Dungeness crab commercial season.
For more information on health advisories related to fisheries, please visit: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Health-Advisories.