The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) enacted new regulations to reduce the risk of marine life entanglements in commercial Dungeness crab fishing gear. These regulations became effective on October 30, 2018 and will be in place for the upcoming 2018-19 commercial Dungeness crab season.
The new regulations allow no more than two trailer buoys to be used at the surface and establish a maximum distance between the front end of the main buoy to the tail end of the last trailer buoy depending on the depth that a trap is deployed. In depths less than or equal to 35 fathoms (210 feet), the distance should measure no more than 4 fathoms (24 feet), while at depths greater than 35 fathoms, the distance should measure no more than 6 fathoms (36 feet).
A diagram describing new surface gear regulations for the 2018-19 season can be found here.
These regulations were developed with input from the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group (Working Group), a multi-stake holder group comprised of state and federal agency staff, fishermen and non-governmental organizations. The Working Group is tasked with evaluating options to reduce the risk of whale interactions with Dungeness crab fishing gear.
In addition to the new surface gear requirements, all recreational and commercial Dungeness crab fishermen are strongly encouraged to follow the Best Practices Guide developed by the Working Group to reduce the risk of marine life entanglements.