The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is continuing the temporary recreational crab trap restriction from the Sonoma/Mendocino county line to Lopez Point (Fishing Zones 3 and 4) and expanding the restriction to the California/Oregon state line to Cape Mendocino (Fishing Zone 1) due to presence of humpback whales and the potential for entanglement from trap gear. The recreational trap restriction for Fishing Zone 1 will go into effect on Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, at 6 p.m. and continue in Zones 1, 3 and 4 until at least the next risk assessment.
This means recreational crabbers must remove all traps in Zone 1 by the time the restriction goes into effect. 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 use of recreational crab traps in Fishing Zones 2 and 5 is still allowed. In addition, the Fleet Advisory issued for all Fishing Zones (1-6) for the recreational fishery remains in effect. CDFW encourages recreational crabbers to implement best practices, as described in the Best Practices Guide.
Pursuant to Fish and Game Code section 8672.2, CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham delayed the northern California commercial Dungeness crab season,which had been scheduled to open on Dec. 1, 2023, 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 will be delayed until at least 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, pending another round of meat quality testing.
The commercial Dungeness crab fishery in Fishing Zones 3-6 will also remain delayed due to the 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 around Dec. 7, 2023, at which time Director Bonham will re-evaluate the temporary recreational crab trap restrictions and commercial fishery delay. That risk assessment is expected to inform the potential for a commercial fishery opener and modification of the recreational trap restriction. 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 www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab