Category Archives: crab

CDFW to Hold Public Hearing on Proposed Dungeness Crab Trap Gear Retrieval Program

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is developing regulations to implement a retrieval program for lost or abandoned commercial Dungeness crab gear. A public hearing will be held at 10 a.m. on June 25, 2019 at the CDFW Monterey Office at 20 Lower Ragsdale Drive, Monterey, Calif.

At the initial public hearing in Santa Rosa on April 2, CDFW proposed modifications to the program. A supplemental public comment period began May 10 and will run through June 24, 2019.

Under existing law (Fish and Game Code Section 8276(d)), all commercial Dungeness crab traps must be removed from the water by 11:59 p.m. on the last day of the commercial Dungeness crab season. Under the proposed program, qualified entities (Retrieval Permittees) and their designated agents can retrieve lost or abandoned commercial Dungeness crab gear remaining in the water after the close of the season. Retrieval Permittees must contact the Dungeness crab vessel permitholder and offer to return the gear in exchange for reasonable compensation. If reasonable compensation is not provided, CDFW will reimburse the Retrieval Permittee and levy fees against the vessel permitholder. The program is expected to reduce the amount of lost or abandoned commercial trap gear in ocean waters, which pose entanglement risk to marine life and navigational hazards to other boaters.

Interested individuals are encouraged to review the proposed regulations (www.wildlife.ca.gov/Notices/Regulations/Gear-Retrieval-Program) and to submit written comments prior to the close of the supplemental public comment period (5 p.m. on June 24) or give oral comments at the public hearing on June 25, 2019.

Media Contacts:
Morgan Ivens-Duran, CDFW Marine Region, (831) 649-2811
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Commercial Rock Crab Fishery Opens from Cape Mendocino to Humboldt Bay

Following the recommendation of state health agencies, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced today that it will be opening the commercial rock crab fishery from near Cape Mendocino, Humboldt County (40° 30.00’ N. Lat.) north to the Humboldt Bay entrance at the north jetty (40° 46.15’ N. latitude), including all ocean waters of Humboldt Bay.

On Nov. 8, 2016, CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham submitted an emergency rulemaking to the Office of Administrative Law to close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point, San Mateo County upon the recommendation of the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). Since that time, portions of the fishery were sequentially reopened by the director in consultation with OEHHA under new authority granted by Fish and Game Code Section 5523. The commercial fishery was last modified in April 2018, when the fishery was opened between the Sonoma/Mendocino County line and the Mendocino/Humboldt County line.

The commercial rock crab fishery remains closed in all waters from the Mendocino/Humboldt County line (40° 00.00’ N. Lat.) to 40° 30.00’ N. Lat. (near Cape Mendocino, Humboldt County) and from the north jetty of the Humboldt Bay entrance (40° 46.15’ N. Lat.) to the California/Oregon border (42° 00.00’ N. Lat.). This closure shall remain in effect until the director of OEHHA, in consultation with the director of California Department of Public Health (CDPH), determines that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and recommends the fishery be opened. CDFW will continue to coordinate with fishermen, CDPH, and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in rock crab within the closured area.

State and federal laws prohibit the commercial distribution of seafood products that contain domoic acid levels above the federal action level of 30 parts per million in the viscera. The recreational fishery for rock crab remains open statewide with a warning from CDPH to avoid consuming the viscera of crab caught between the Mendocino/Humboldt County line and Cape Mendocino, Humboldt County and from the north jetty of the Humboldt Bay entrance to the California/Oregon border.

Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin produced by a naturally occurring marine alga, whose levels can be increased under certain ocean conditions, and can accumulate in shellfish, other invertebrates and sometimes fish. It causes illness and sometimes death in a variety of birds and marine mammals that consume affected organisms. At low levels, domoic acid exposure can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness in humans. At higher levels, it can cause persistent short-term memory loss, seizures and death.

For More Information:
Memo from Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (5/23/2019)
CDFW Director’s Opener Declaration (5/23/2019)
www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Health-Advisories
www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab

Media Contacts:
Christy Juhasz, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2887
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

 

 

Commercial Dungeness Crab Season to Close Statewide April 15

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham issued a declaration to close the commercial Dungeness crab fishery statewide at 11:59 p.m. on April 15, 2019 due to increased whale entanglement risk anticipated for the spring and summer months.

Under the interim authority of Section 8276.1(c)(1) of the Fish and Game Code, the Director may restrict take of commercial Dungeness crab if the fishery is being conducted in a manner that poses a significant risk of marine life entanglement. Therefore, the Director has declared that the commercial Dungeness crab fishery will close at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, April 15, 2019. All Dungeness crab commercial fishing gear must be removed from ocean waters and landings must be completed by April 15, 2019 at 11:59 p.m.

For more information or updates, please see the Department’s Crab Fishery web page.

Media Contacts:
Ryan Bartling, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2877
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Entanglement Settlement Protects Whales, Sea Turtles and California’s Crab Fishery

SAN FRANCISCO — Californians will be pleased to know that Dungeness crab will be caught off the coast with greater care for endangered wildlife under a settlement announced by the Center for Biological Diversity, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA).

The legal settlement protects whales and sea turtles from entanglement in commercial Dungeness crab gear. The Center for Biological Diversity sued CDFW in October 2017 after a drastic increase in the number of whale entanglements off the West Coast.

“As I’ve said many times, no one wants whale entanglements to happen,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “This agreement represents hours of intense negotiation to help ensure they don’t happen while supporting the resiliency of the crab fishery in the long run. I am thankful for the leadership of the Center for Biological Diversity and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations who realized something needed to be done together.”

“This is great news for whales and sea turtles fighting extinction off California’s coast,” said Kristen Monsell, a Center for Biological Diversity attorney. “The settlement will reduce serious threats from crab gear to these beautiful and highly endangered animals. This agreement is a turning point that gets us closer to zero entanglements and a healthy ocean.”

The lawsuit was brought by the Center for Biological Diversity against CDFW (Center for Biological Diversity v. Bonham) in federal court in San Francisco. The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, which represents crabbers, intervened in the lawsuit.

The settlement, subject to court approval, creates a comprehensive approach to the problem of whale entanglements. It expedites state regulation, ensures stakeholder input from the Dungeness crab Fishing Gear Working Group and formalizes a first-ever commitment by CDFW to pursue a federal permit for protecting endangered species. While these steps are executed, the settlement calls for this year’s crab season to end three months early and prescribes protective measures for future springtime fishing seasons, when the greatest number of whales are present off the California coast.

In November 2018, CDFW announced it would seek a federal permit under the Endangered Species Act to address protected species interactions with the crab fishery. Obtaining a permit and developing a conservation plan as part of that process can take years, so the settlement spells out interim protections.

“This settlement represents the path back to normality for California’s crab fishery with built-in protections for whales and crab fishing operations under the Endangered Species Act,” said Noah Oppenheim, executive director of PCFFA. “The past several years have been extraordinarily challenging for fishing families, and the actions we’re taking here are no exception. But in the end, we’re going to emerge together with a resilient, prosperous, and protective fishery that will continue to feed California and the nation.”

Details of the settlement can be found at http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=166146.

The mission of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is to manage California’s diverse fish, wildlife, and plant resources, and the habitats upon which they depend, for their ecological values and for their use and enjoyment by the public.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations is the largest commercial fishermen’s organization on the West Coast, representing 17 local and regional associations from Santa Barbara to Southeast Alaska. As a major commercial fishing industry trade association, PCFFA represents the interests of commercial fishing families who make their living harvesting and delivering high-quality seafood to America’s tables.

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Media Contacts:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW, (916) 654-9937
Kristen Monsell, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 844-7137
Noah Oppenheim, PCFFA, (415) 723-1801 or Michael Coats, (707) 235-6203

CDFW Magnifies Efforts to Recruit Hunters and Anglers

In an effort to get more Californians involved in fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is partnering with the recreational fishing and hunting communities, state and federal agencies, and others to address barriers and opportunities to hunting and fishing in the state.

“Our goal is to support and encourage people to get outdoors and enjoy California’s wild places,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “The fishing and hunting opportunities in this state are unparalleled, they belong to all Californians and should be utilized by all of us. This effort is to make sure Californians know that.”

CDFW has formed an executive-level task force, hired a full-time coordinator to head-up the effort, hired a research scientist, and finalized a statewide recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) action plan. A staff-level working group is working to increase hunting and fishing participation by collaborating with diverse stakeholders to transform barriers to participation into opportunities. Some of the barriers CDFW will look at initially are access and opportunity challenges, public perception of fishing and hunting, and license structure and pricing. The effort will also focus on encouraging more adults to take up hunting and fishing for the first time.

Research shows spending time outdoors improves physical, mental and social well-being. Many hunters and anglers say the reason they participate in these activities is to enjoy the quality time with family and friends and to bring home great memories and healthy food.

California is home to some of the nation’s most diverse hunting and fishing opportunities, but participation in these activities has declined significantly since the 1970s and 1980s. Hunters and anglers play a crucial role in managing natural resources by regulating wildlife populations to maintain ecological and biological diversity, participating in wildlife surveys for scientific data collection, and reporting wildlife crimes. Hunters and anglers also help sustain a multi-billion-dollar outdoor recreation industry and provide the primary funding source for state-level fish and wildlife conservation in California. The decline in participation poses an ever-increasing threat to wildlife conservation, the state’s long-standing hunting and fishing heritage, and Californians’ connection to the outdoors in general.

“The fishing and hunting community has rallied around CDFW, and we are now poised to tackle the challenges before us,” Bonham said.

To get involved or learn more about the state’s R3 efforts, please contact Jennifer.Benedet@wildlife.ca.gov.

Media Contacts:
Jen Benedet, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 903-9270
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 651-7824