The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is seeking applicants for the 2021 Lost or Abandoned Commercial Dungeness Crab Trap Gear Retrieval Program. Removal of lost or abandoned trap gear reduces marine life entanglement risk during the summer months when large numbers of whales are present off California. Removal also reduces navigational hazards which pose safety risks and can impact other fishing operations.
The program allows permitted individuals to collect lost or abandoned commercial Dungeness crab gear after the close of the season and to receive compensation for retrieved gear. Permit applications are limited to sport or commercial fishing organizations, non-profit organizations, and local government entities such as ports or harbor districts. Up to 10 commercial trap fishermen can be listed on each permit and conduct retrieval activities. All retrieved gear must be documented in a logbook. Permittees are required to contact the original owner of the gear and offer to return the gear in exchange for reasonable compensation.
The program was adopted into regulation pursuant to Fish and Game Code Section 9002.5 in 2019 and implemented for the first time in 2020. During the first year of the program, CDFW issued permits to entities based in Crescent City, Trinidad, Eureka, Bodega Bay, San Francisco, Half Moon Bay, and Monterey Bay. Approximately 520 traps were retrieved and all traps were returned to the original owners.
Permit applications are available now on the CDFW License and Revenue Branch web page. Applications will be processed on a rolling basis. The retrieval season is scheduled to start July 15 south of the Sonoma/Mendocino county line and July 30 north of the Sonoma/Mendocino county line. However, if the commercial Dungeness crab season is closed due to elevated marine life concentration risk, CDFW may authorize earlier retrieval.
post by Morgan Ivens-Duran, CDFW Environmental Scientist