Tag Archives: commercial fishing

More of Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery to Open Dec. 3; Some Areas Will Remain Closed

An approximately 50-mile portion of the commercial Dungeness crab fishery between Point Reyes, Marin County and near Salt Point, Sonoma County that has been closed due to elevated domoic acid levels will open on Dec. 3 at the recommendation of state health agencies, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced today. However, the fishery will remain closed north of Salt Point to the Humboldt Bay entrance. The closed portions of the coast may open once testing by state agencies shows that the area is safe with regard to domoic acid levels.

On Dec. 3 at 12:01 a.m., the commercial Dungeness crab season will open from Point Reyes (38° 00’ N. lat.) to near Salt Point (38° 34.5’N. Lat.).  The opener will be preceded by an 18-hour pre-soak period commencing at 6 a.m. on Dec. 2.  The area between Salt Point and the north jetty at the Humboldt Bay entrance south will remain closed until the CDFW Director receives a recommendation from the state health agencies that levels of domoic acid – a naturally occurring toxin – do not pose a public health risk. Last fall and winter, domoic acid along the West Coast interrupted Dungeness and rock crab fisheries from Santa Barbara to the Oregon state line.

At the recommendation of the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham submitted to the Office of Administrative Law an emergency rulemaking to keep the commercial Dungeness crab fishery closed north of Point Reyes (38° 00’ N. lat.) and to close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point (37° 11’ N. lat.). 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, or guts. Because of this, on Nov. 8, OEHHA in consultation with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recommended to CDFW to close or delay the start of the commercial Dungeness crab season north of Point Reyes and close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point. On November 23, OEHHA, in consultation with CDPH, recommended that CDFW open the commercial fishery from the north jetty at the Humboldt Bay entrance to the California/Oregon state line at its normal opening date of Dec. 1, and is now recommending the commercial fishery be opened from Point Reyes to near Salt Point.

The recreational season for Dungeness crab opened on Nov. 5 and remains open with a warning from CDPH to recreational anglers to avoid consuming the internal organs of Dungeness crab caught between Salt Point and the north jetty at the Humboldt Bay entrance.

Closure of the above-referenced commercial fisheries shall remain in effect until the Director of OEHHA, in consultation with the Director of CDPH, determines that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and recommends the fisheries be open, and the Director of CDFW provides notification to the commercial fisheries. Recreational fisheries will remain open under a warning to anglers not to eat the guts of crab caught in the affected areas.

CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in crab along the coast to determine when the fisheries can safely be opened. CDPH, in conjunction with CDFW, has been actively testing crabs since early September and results from the most recent tests showed that select crabs from the closed areas had elevated levels of domoic acid in their viscera. Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin that 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 can in some cases be fatal.

For more information:

Memo from Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (12/1/2016)

http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Health-Advisories

www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Invertebrates/Crabs#315201115-links-to-the-latest-information

# # #

Media Contacts:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

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.