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Northern California Commercial Dungeness Crab Season Opener Pushed Back

The director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has announced an additional 15-day delay for the upcoming commercial Dungeness crab season, based on the results of another round of pre-season quality testing conducted on Dec. 5. The tests continued to show that Dungeness crab are not yet ready for harvesting.

The delay affects Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 (Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties). The season in these districts is now scheduled to open on 12:01 a.m. Dec. 31, 2017, to be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Dec. 28, 2017.

Crab quality tests are conducted regularly to ensure that crab are filled out enough prior to harvesting. Tests follow guidelines established by the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee, which is overseen by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission.

Additional testing will be scheduled to occur by Dec. 22. If quality remains low, an additional delay until Jan. 15, 2018 will be issued by the director. This date is the latest the season can be delayed due to quality testing.

No vessel may take or land crab within Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 during the closure period. In addition, any vessel that lands crab from ocean waters outside of Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 is prohibited from participating in the crab fishery in Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9, or any other delayed opening areas in Oregon or Washington, for 30 days following the opening of those areas as outline in California’s Fair Start Provision (Fish and Game Code, section 8279.1).