The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has said that it expects an assessment by Nov. 17 re-evaluating risks to humpback whales in the area of a Dungeness crab fishery before setting a new date for the fishery opener, which was previously set for Nov. 15.
For now, the opening date of the Dungeness crab fishery south of the Sonoma-Mendocino County line remains uncertain. According to CDFW, the risk assessment is expected to inform the potential for a statewide commercial fishery opener on Dec. 1 and the potential as well to modify the recreational trap restriction.
The commercial Dungeness crab fishery south of the Sonoma-Mendocino County line had been scheduled to open Nov. 15 in fishing Zones 3, 4, 5, and 6. CDFW also announced a temporary crab trap restriction in the recreational crab fishery for Fishing Zones 3 and 4.
CDFW Director Charlton Bonham has said that large aggregations of humpback shales are continuing to forage between Bodega Bay and Monterey and allowing use of crab traps would increase the risk of an entanglement in those fishing zones.
Bonham said his agency would continue to work with both the commercial and recreational Dungeness crab fisheries to protect whales while working to maximize fishing opportunity. He praised efforts of the commercial and recreational and the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group to manage entanglement risks.