Dungeness Crab Fishery Delay to Protect Whales from Entanglement

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is continuing the temporary recreational crab trap restriction in Fishing Zones 3, 4, 5 and 6 due to presence of humpback whales and the potential for entanglement from trap gear. However, the recreational crab trap restriction for Fishing Zones 1 and 2 will be lifted on Nov. 28, 2022 at 9 a.m. 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.

The commercial Dungeness crab fishery in Fishing Zones 3-6 will also remain delayed due to presence of high numbers of humpback whales and the potential for entanglement with lines and traps in this fishery.

CDFW anticipates the next risk assessment will take place on or before Dec. 7, 2022, at which time CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham will re-evaluate the temporary recreational crab trap restriction and commercial fishery delay in Fishing Zones 3-6. That risk assessment is expected to inform the potential for a commercial fishery opener and modification of the recreational trap restriction in Fishing Zones 3-6 on Dec. 16, 2022.

“We appreciate the discussions with the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group regarding risk of entanglement,” said Director Bonham. “Ultimately, we must rely on the best available science and make management decisions based on the Risk Assessment Mitigation Program (RAMP) regulations. CDFW remains committed to providing fishing opportunity when risk of entanglement is low, which is consistent with our management approach since implementation of RAMP.”

In addition, pursuant to Fish and Game Code 8672.2, Director Bonham has also delayed the northern California commercial Dungeness crab season due to poor crab meat quality test results for Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties (Fishing Zones 1 and 2). The commercial Dungeness crab fishery in this area is delayed until 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 16, 2022 pending another round of meat quality testing. If results indicate good quality, the fishery will open and be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that will begin at 8:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022.

For more information related to the risk assessment process, please visit CDFW’s Whale Safe Fisheries page or more information on the Dungeness crab fishery, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/crab.