Fish and Wildlife Bans Crab Traps for Recreational Season

Effective April 24 at 7 p.m., the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is banning the use of crab pots for recreational catch due to an increased risk of whale entanglement.

“This restriction is being implemented due to unusually high numbers of humpback whales migrating to California waters earlier than in previous years and due to several recent humpback whale entanglements involving commercial Dungeness crab fishing gear. of California and gear of unknown origin,” the CDFW announcement states. “This statewide trap restriction will help minimize the risk of entanglement as humpback whales continue to return to feed in California waters through the spring and summer.”

The announcement comes a week after CDFW made the decision to end the commercial season early on April 20 for the same reasons.

Recreational crabbers can still use other methods, including fyke nets and crab snares, to catch Dungeness crabs in the meantime. In Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties, the recreational season ends July 30.

The CDFW is also asking fishermen and sailors to “be on the lookout and report any entangled whales so that an entanglement response team can be mobilized to remove the gear.”

Read the full CDFW announcement below:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham assessed the risk of entanglement under the Risk Assessment Program (RAMP) and in accordance with regulations adopted by the California Fish and Game Commission for recreational crab fishing. Due to the increased risk of whale entanglement, Superintendent Bonham is restricting the use of crab pots for the remainder of the recreational Dungeness crab fishing season. The season ends July 30, 2022 in Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties and June 30, 2022 in all other counties. The trap restriction will come into effect at 7 p.m. on April 24, 2022, at which time the use and deployment of recreational crab traps will be prohibited.

This restriction is being implemented due to unusually high numbers of humpback whales migrating to California waters earlier than in previous years and due to several recent humpback whale entanglements involving commercial Dungeness crab fishing gear from California and gear of unknown origin. This statewide trap restriction will help minimize the risk of entanglement as humpback whales continue to return to feed in California waters in the spring and summer. Recreational capture of Dungeness crabs by other methods, including fyke nets and crab snares, is not affected by the trap restriction.

CDFW asks recreational crab fishers to remove their traps as soon as possible, but no later than 7 p.m. on April 24, 2022, and to be on the lookout and report any entangled whales so that a response team can disentanglement can be mobilized to remove the device. Reports can be made to 1-877-SOS-WHALE or contact the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF channel 16. CDFW, partner researchers, and federal agencies have conducted numerous aerial and ship-based surveys from the line of state of California/Oregon to the Channel Islands. in Southern California to observe concentrations of marine life.

These records, along with other inputs, including important oceanographic data, inform the RAMP. This broad, collaborative effort aims to use the best science available to manage an important California fishery. Its primary goal is to strike a balance between minimizing the risk of entanglement and providing fishing opportunities and ultimately fresh Dungeness crab for California residents.

For more information on the risk assessment process, please visit CDFW’s Whale Safe Fisheries page. For more information on Dungeness Crab fishing, please visit CDFW’s Crab page, including FAQs on the new recreational crab pot regulations. A map of all fishing areas is available on the CDFW website.