Dungeness crab season delayed along California coast

Dungeness crab season delayed along California coast
Dungeness crab season delayed along California coast

In a decision announced last Friday, the commercial Dungeness crab season will be delayed again. Originally scheduled to start on November 15, the season could now start on December 1, according to the East Bay Times. This is the fourth year in a row that the season has been delayed.

The postponement, which is decided by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, is due to the current migration patterns of humpback whales along the California coast. Whales can become entangled in crab lines and sustain significant injuries that can impede their ability to swim or eat. If a whale has to expend more energy swimming while entangled in crab wire, it can sometimes make it harder for it to eat and can lead to starvation.

“Based on recent surveys, large aggregations of humpback whales continue to feed in coastal California waters and allowing the use of crab pots would increase the risk of entanglement,” the CDFW director said. Charlton H. Bonham. “We will continue to work with recreational and commercial Dungeness crab fisheries to protect whales and sea turtles while striving to maximize fishing opportunities.”

2018 was the last year a commercial crab season started on time. In 2019 and 2020, whale protection delayed the commercial crab season. A price strike by commercial crab fleets also delayed the 2020 season until January 2021.

Local stores and seafood vendors now expect a delay every season.

“The truth is, this is the fourth year in a row that it’s been delayed,” Adrian Hoffman, owner of Four Star Seafood, a local wholesaler and distributor, told SFGATE by phone. “I spoke with our fishermen a few weeks ago and they already knew it was going to be delayed. In fact, they don’t think it will be open until January 1st.

This is obviously a blow for those whose livelihood depends on the crab season each year. However, they also know that if a whale were to die due to entanglement, the rest of the season would be interrupted, so prevention is better than cure, Hoffman said.

It’s also a big deal for small business owners in the Bay Area.

“As you can imagine, not having crabs affects our business,” David Samiljan, owner of Baron’s Quality Meats & Seafood, told SFGATE via email. “Although crabs aren’t the main attraction on Thanksgiving, we normally sell a lot of them. About 15% of our sales would be crabs. »

Although local stores get crabs off the coast of Washington, Oregon and sometimes British Columbia, mostly for special requests, they don’t taste as good as local crabs, Samiljan said.

It was a sentiment shared by Hoffman. “The meat filling is not as good as when it opens up here locally,” he said.

The recreational Dungeness crab fishery will not be affected, CDFW said. Crab fishing using pots and crab snares can begin as early as November 5, although traps are temporarily limited.

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