Tag Archives: commercial fishing

Commercial Dungeness Crab Season in Northern Region Further Delayed

Contact:
Christy Juhasz, DFG Environmental Scientist, (707) 576-2887
Carrie Wilson, DFG Environmental Scientist, (831) 649-7191

Northern California commercial fishing boats will have to wait until the end of December to fish for Dungeness crab. The commercial Dungeness crab fishing season north of Sonoma County is now scheduled to open Dec. 31.

many dungeness crabs in yellow bin
Commercial crab catch. DFG photo

The season had already been delayed from its originally scheduled Dec. 1 opening to Dec. 16 because tests were showing Dungeness crabs off the northern California coast had not sufficiently developed meat.The Dungeness crab season from Sonoma County south does not fall under the same restrictions. That season opened on Nov. 15.

“Another round of pre-season quality tests revealed that crab from Mendocino County and north won’t be ready for harvest by the delayed opening day of Dec. 16. However, crab are projected to meet the quality standard by Dec 31,” said Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Environmental Scientist Christy Juhasz.

“Crabs ready for harvest should ideally contain at least 25 percent of their body weight as meat,” Juhasz added.

Oregon and Washington are also scheduled to open Dungeness crab seasons on Dec. 31 on the basis of mutually conducted crab quality tests.

Regulations allow for delays off California’s northern coast if Dungeness crabs have soft shells or are of poor quality. The delays may not extend past Jan. 15.

Commercial Dungeness Crab Season Delayed off North Coast

Contacts:
Christy Juhasz, DFG Environmental Scientist, (707) 576-2887
Carrie Wilson, DFG Environmental Scientist, (831) 649-7191

many dungeness crabs in yellow bin
Commercial crab catch. DFG photo

The commercial Dungeness crab season north of Sonoma County will be delayed at least two weeks to allow crabs more time to grow to ensure they are of suitable quality.

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) delayed the opening of the commercial Dungeness crab season after tests showed crabs in the area lacked the required body mass. The decision means the scheduled Dec. 1 opening will be pushed back at least two weeks and possibly longer if the crabs need more time to mature.

The central California commercial Dungeness crab season is set to open on schedule Nov. 15.

The North Coast crab fishery is subject to tests to ensure the crabs are not harvested prematurely.

“Tests are routinely performed each year by the commercial fishing industry and market buyers to determine if the crabs are mature enough for harvest,” said DFG Environmental Scientist Christy Juhasz.

“Crabs ready for harvest should contain 25 percent of their body weight as meat. In tests performed two weeks ago, crabs from the North Coast contained only 16-18 percent body mass,” Juhasz added.

Additional testing will be done in December, and depending on those results a further delay could be ordered. A similar delay was implemented last year off the North Coast.

“Crabs from the Central Coast do not fall under the same restrictions and so their season will open as normal on Nov. 15. Fresh crab should then be immediately available to consumers, provided the fishermen and the markets can agree on market prices,” Juhasz said.

Commercial Market Squid Fishery to Close December 17

Contacts:
Dale Sweetnam, DFG Marine Region, (858) 546-7170
Marci Yaremko, DFG Marine Region, (858) 442-3004
Jordan Traverso, DFG Communications, (916) 654-9937

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) will close the commercial fishery for market squid, Loligo (Doryteuthis) opalescens, Friday, Dec. 17 at noon.

Based on landings information and projections, DFG biologists expect that by Dec. 17, the season’s harvest limit of 118,000 short tons of market squid will be reached. The squid fishing season runs from April through the following March of each year, meaning the fishery will remain closed through March 31, 2011. This is the first time that the harvest limit has been reached since it was implemented by the Fish and Game Commission in 2002.

“We have had a banner year for market squid this year” said Dale Sweetnam, a DFG senior marine biologist who oversees the commercial market squid fishery. “In California, we have had squid landings from La Jolla to Half Moon Bay and reports that market squid are abundant off many of the offshore banks, the Channel Islands, as well as off Baja California. The colder than normal water conditions we have observed since February have provided optimal conditions for squid spawning.”

The presence of market squid is strongly correlated with environmental factors, such as water temperature and nutrient availability. In warm water years and during El Niño conditions, squid become scarce and landings decline. However, when water temperatures cool, even after severe warm water events, market squid numbers can rebound quickly and dramatically.

DFG, with assistance from squid fishermen and seafood processors, has been tracking catches daily this fall in anticipation of reaching the harvest limit, which was established to ensure the squid fishery does not expand beyond levels experienced in the 1990s. “The wetfish industry and California Wetfish Producers Association are very pleased to partner with DFG to ensure a sustainable market squid resource and fishery,” said California Wetfish Producers Association Executive Director Diane Pleschner-Steele.

Market squid is by far California’s largest and most valuable commercial fishery. In 2009, just over 100,000 tons was landed with an ex-vessel value of $56.5 million. California market squid is used domestically for food – often identified as “calamari” in restaurants – and is an important international commodity. Last year, California fish businesses exported market squid to 36 countries with China being the leading importer of California market squid.

The harvest limit is one of many provisions governing the squid fishery, which has been managed under the state’s Market Squid Fishery Management Plan (MSFMP) since 2005. The goals of the MSFMP are to ensure long term conservation and sustainability of the market squid resource, reduce the potential for overfishing and provide a framework for management. In addition to the harvest limit, weekend closures were implemented to allow for periods of uninterrupted spawning each week.

The MSFMP was developed under the provisions set forth by California’s Marine Life Management Act (MLMA), which became law in 1999. The MLMA created state policies, goals and objectives to govern the conservation, sustainable use and restoration of California’s living marine resources such as squid.