For the fourth consecutive yr, California officers are delaying the Bay Space’s business Dungeness crab season to lower the probabilities of humpback whales at the moment off the coast getting ensnarled by the crab-pot fishing traces.
The season was scheduled to start out Nov. 15 within the waters from the Sonoma/Mendocino County border south to the Mexican border.
The order got here down Friday night from Charlton H. Bonham, director of the California Division of Fish and Wildlife.
“Primarily based on current surveys, massive aggregations of humpbacks whales proceed to forage in California coastal waters and permitting using crab traps would enhance the chance of an entanglement,” Bonham mentioned in saying the choice. “We are going to proceed to work with each the leisure and business Dungeness crab fisheries to guard whales and sea turtles whereas striving to maximise fishing alternative.”
Though one other evaluation will happen on or earlier than Nov. 23, a gap date in time for California residents to take pleasure in Dungeness for the Nov. 24 Thanksgiving vacation is unlikely. That evaluation might, nevertheless, result in a gap date of Dec. 1, officers mentioned.
The leisure Dungeness season shall be allowed to start out as scheduled on Nov. 5 — however with restrictions. Crabbers could not use lure gear, in line with the state order; solely hoop nets and crab snares shall be allowed till additional evaluation.
Since 2015, there have been delays in all however one business Dungeness season within the Bay Space. A toxin, domoic acid, that would sicken anybody who eats the contaminated crab destroyed Northern California’s 2015-2016 business season and created delays in different years.
In 2018, leisure crabbers needed to postpone their fishing, however the business season started and not using a hitch.
In 2019 and 2020, the fishing line hazard to whales resulted in a crabbing delay of a number of weeks. The 2020 crabbing season was formally set to start Dec. 23, however worth negotiations between crab fleets and seafood processors delayed the beginning till early January 2021.
The 2021 season was delayed two weeks for much Northern California, and acquired beneath means Dec. 1. Within the Bay Space, the business crabbing season wasn’t allowed to start out till Dec. 29. The tip got here sooner than traditional — April 8 of this yr– after two whales turned entangled in crab-fishing gear, one off the San Mateo County coast and one in Monterey Bay.