After a month long delay, commercial Dungeness crab season got underway Sunday in most of northern and central California. California Department of Wish and Wildlife delayed the November 2nd opening date ‘after aerial surveys done in October and November showed more whales than usual near Point Reyes and Half Moon Bay. Sport crabbing began Nov. 2 as scheduled.’
‘The commercial Dungeness crab industry in California takes in $40 million to $95 million a year. When things are going well, said Boland, a single crab trap may catch 30 crabs — each worth about $6 to the fisherman. At slow times, there may be 10 or fewer crabs per trap. Short seasons can lead to millions of dollars in losses for crab fishermen.’
Regulations have changed over the years to protect whales from “becoming entangled in fishing gear and by elevated levels of domoic acid.”
In 2017, the Oakland nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity filed suit against the state alleging Fish and Wildlife did not do enough to prevent endangered humpbacks and other whales from getting caught in fishing gear. The two parties settled the suit in 2018 and agreed that even one whale entangled in fishing gear could result in further restrictions or an abrupt end to the season.
Although the number of whales caught in fishing gear, mainly crab nets and other gear, have decreased since the new regulations have gone into effect, they’re “still considered high, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Many entanglements involved Dungeness crab gear.”