Dungeness Crab Fishing has a New Depth Constraint

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife released an advisory and depth constraint for commercial Dungeness crab fishing season that went into effect on May 10 in Northern California.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA一 The California Department of Fish and Wildlife implemented a depth constraint for commercial Dungeness Crab fishing that went into place at 12 p.m. on May 10.

The depth constraint at 30 fathoms and shallower is implemented in fishing zones one and two from the Oregon state line to the Sonoma/Mendocino county line.

Commercial fleets are also required to carry an onboard electronic monitoring system to record the vessel’s location while engaged in fishing activity using GPS coordinates at a frequency of no less than once per minute.

The monitoring must be available to the CDFW upon request for the duration of the fishing period and up to 60 days after.

The department is encouraging the best fishing practices, things like minimizing knots, line scope, and to immediately remove all gear when it is no longer in operation.

In a recommendation published on May 3 by the CDFW, they requested that zones one and two should pay particular attention to the location of set gear and to be aware of whales in the area to avoid entanglement as much as possible.

The implementation came after the most recent marine life entanglement risk assessment that took into account various marine mammals that utilize California coastal waters.

According to the report released by the CDFW on May 3, bi-weekly reporting showed most fishing gear is at depths between 13 and 31 fathoms with some gear at lower depths.

Humpback whales, which utilize Northern California waters as a winter breeding ground, tend to hang around 30 fathoms or deeper; the assessment predicts that the depth constraint will not significantly impact commercial fishing.

Zones one through six are still under Fleet Advisory and the CDFW was expected to go forward with another risk assessment on or around May 14.

“The Department will perform additional risk assessments throughout the spring and respond to changing entanglement risk as appropriate should new data indicate increased entanglement risk for Humpback whales, Blue whales, or Pacific leatherback sea turtles in the Fishing Grounds,” said the May 3 report.

For more information visit the CDFW website at http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab.

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