Last Day of Northern California Recreational Dungeness Crab Season Approaches; New Crab Regulations to Take Effect Aug. 1

Dungeness crab   photo by K. Joe

Although the Dungeness crab season was delayed in some parts of California until May this year, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds the public that  the last day of the recreational Dungeness crab season is already nearly here. This Saturday, July 30, will be the last day of the season from the Sonoma/Mendocino county line to the California-Oregon border. The commercial fishing season for this area ended last Friday, July 15. The Dungeness crab season closed south of the Sonoma/Mendocino county line earlier this year on June 30.

The rock crab recreational and commercial fisheries are open year round, however due to the presence of domoic acid in the most recent samples from the coast, these fisheries are only open south of Pigeon Point, San Mateo County (37° 11′ N Lat.). Rock crab testing is scheduled to occur north of this location where the fishery remains closed. Latest test results of rock crab samples are posted on the California Department of Public Health crab testing results website.

In addition to the crab season ending, participants in the recreational crab fisheries are advised that there are three new crab trap requirements that take effect August 1, 2016. Crab traps will be required to have a destruct device, also referred to as a “rotten cotton”, made of a single strand of untreated cotton twine size No. 120 or less that creates an unobstructed opening in the top or upper half of the trap that is at least five inches in diameter when the device material corrodes. This is to allow organisms to escape from traps that become lost or abandoned.

Also starting August 1, each crab trap is required to have a buoy that is legibly marked with the operator of the trap’s GO ID number as it appears on their fishing license. This is to help prevent the pulling of another person’s traps if  the trap puller has not been given written permission to do so.

Lastly, crab traps can no longer be deployed and used in ocean waters for seven days prior to the start of the recreational Dungeness crab season. The recreational Dungeness crab season is scheduled to start statewide on Saturday, November 5, 2016 (the first Saturday of November) so crab traps cannot be deployed or used in state waters between Saturday, October 29, 2016 and Friday, November 4, 2016. This applies to fishing for rock crab as well as any other species of crab, and aims to prevent early fishing for Dungeness crab before the season begins.

For the latest information, visit the CDFW Health Advisories web page or Crab web page, or call the CDFW domoic acid fishery closure information phone number: (831) 649-2883.

post by Christy Juhasz, CDFW Environmental Scientist