California Recreational Dungeness Crab Season Open in Most of Northern California, Commercial Season Opens May 12

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Dungeness crab taken from Bodega Bay area                                     photo by C. Juhasz

Update – 5/19/2016 Recreational Dungeness Crab Fishery Now Open Statewide, Commercial Fishery to Follow in Seven Days

As of May 2, 2016 the majority of coastline in northern California is now open to recreational Dungeness crab fishing. These areas comprise all the ocean, bay and estuarine waters south of the Humboldt Bay entrance, including the entrance and the waters of Humboldt Bay, and the area north of the southern boundary of Reading Rock State Marine Conservation Area (near Redwood Creek in Humboldt County) to the California/Oregon border. The area between the northern jetty of the Humboldt Bay entrance and the southern boundary of Reading Rock State Marine Conservation Area remains closed to recreational take of Dungeness crab.

Based on testing results in recent weeks, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, in consultation with the California Department of Public Health, determined that Dungeness crab were safe to eat along the coast south and north of the closure area described above.

The commercial fishery will open in northern California in the same areas just opened to recreational fishing at 12:01 am on Thursday, May 12, after a 64-hour gear-setting period that will commence at 8:01 a.m. on Monday, May 9. All northern port areas sampled for domoic acid except for the Trinidad South site have tested clean, and continual testing will occur at the Trinidad South site on a weekly basis. The latest test results are posted on the Department of Public Health’s crab testing results web page.

As of April 22, 2016 the recreational and commercial rock crab fisheries remain closed north of Sand Hill Bluff, Santa Cruz County; this closure includes San Francisco Bay. The Channel Islands of Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel are open to both the recreational and commercial rock crab fisheries; however, a closure remains in effect within an exclusion area between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands (see map of the Channel Islands rock crab closure area).

For the latest information, visit the CDFW crab website or call the CDFW’s Domoic Acid Fishery Closure Information line: (831) 649-2883.


post by Christy Juhasz, CDFW Marine Environmental Scientist