California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officials have put restrictions on commercial Dungeness crab fishing to protect humpback whales returning from their winter breeding grounds to northern California fishing areas.
Beginning at noon on May 10, from the Oregon state line to the Sonoma/Mendocino county line, commercial Dungeness crab fishing will only be allowed in ocean waters 30 fathoms and shallower. CDFW also is requiring that all vessels carry onboard an electronic monitoring system capable of recording the vessel’s location while engaged in fishing using GPS coordinates at a frequency of no less than once per minute during fishing operations.
That electronic monitoring data must be made available upon request to CDFW for the duration of the fishing period and 60 days thereafter. The restrictions are to remain in place until lifted by CDFW or until the season closes.
CDFW also will be maintaining a statewide fleet advisory for the commercial Dungeness crab fishery for all fishing zones. The fleet is reminded to implement fishing best practices and to immediately remove all gear rom the water when they have stopped fishing.
Vessels working in Zones 1-4 are advised to pay particular attention to locations of set gear and foraging whales and to minimize entanglement risk by adhering to the Best Practices Guide.
Skippers are advised to move or avoid setting gear in areas where whales are transiting or foraging, particularly in areas around Reading Rock north of Trinidad.