CDFW Announces Depth Restriction for the Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery in Fishing

by California Department of Fish & Wildlife

CDFW Announces Depth Restriction for the Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery in Fishing Zones 1 and 2 and Recreational Crab Trap Prohibition in Zones 3-6 to Protect Humpback Whales 

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham has assessed entanglement risk under the Risk Assessment Mitigation Program (RAMP) and implemented a 30-fathom depth constraint for Fishing Zones 1 and 2 (Sonoma/Mendocino county line to the Oregon state line) effective May 15, 2023 at 12 p.m. (noon) for the commercial Dungeness crab fishery. Traps used in the commercial fishery will be prohibited in waters seaward of the 30-fathom contour as defined in Title 50 of the Federal Codes of Regulations, Part 660, Section 660.71. All vessels must also carry onboard an electronic monitoring system capable of recording the vessel’s location while engaged in fishing activity using GPS coordinates at a frequency of no less than once per minute during fishing operations. Electronic monitoring data must be made available to CDFW upon request for the duration of the fishing season and 60 days thereafter.  

Recreational crab traps will be prohibited in Fishing Zones 3-6 (all areas south of the Sonoma/Mendocino county line) effective at 12 p.m. (noon) on May 15, 2023. CDFW reminds recreational crabbers that take of Dungeness crab by other methods, including hoop nets and crab snares, is still allowed through the close of the season on June 30, 2023. 

These restrictions are being implemented to minimize entanglement risk for humpback whales as they return to forage off the coast of California. Based on historical migration patterns, CDFW anticipates humpback whales will continue arriving in the coming weeks and has determined this action is needed to reduce entanglement risk. 

Fishing Zones 1 through 6 also remain under a Fleet Advisory for both the commercial and recreational Dungeness crab fisheries until the season closes in each Fishing Zone. CDFW reminds all commercial and recreational fishery participants to implement best practices, as described in the Best Practices Guide. All anglers should be prepared to act quickly to remove fishing gear from remaining open areas should entanglement risk become elevated. For more information related to the risk assessment process, please visit CDFW’s Whale Safe Fisheries page. For more information on the Dungeness crab fishery, please visit CDFW’s Crab page, including FAQs for the 2022-23 commercial fishing season and a Compliance Guide for Electronic Monitoring.

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