CDFW Releases Updated Draft Conservation Plan for Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery

Dungeness crab boats in harbor
Crab boats docked in Bodega Bay harbor
CDFW photo by C. Juhasz

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has released an updated draft conservation plan for public review and comment that addresses protected species interactions in the commercial Dungeness crab fishery.

The conservation plan is a critical component of CDFW’s application for an Incidental Take Permit under Section 10 of the federal Endangered Species Act. The plan reflects and builds upon the extensive work of the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group, federal and state partners, researchers, and other stakeholders. It includes several activities that aim to reduce entanglement risk for covered species, specifically humpback whales, blue whales, and leatherback sea turtles. These include an entanglement detection network, electronic vessel monitoring, port-based gear recovery programs, gear innovation, improved best fishing practices and, most importantly, dynamic in-season management through the Risk Assessment and Mitigation Program.

Humpback whale tail protruding from the water
Humpback whale tail
photo by D. McDermott

CDFW will hold a virtual public meeting to provide an overview of the conservation plan and answer questions about the plan at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, January 7, 2022. Additional information on how to join the online meeting  will be posted on CDFW’s Whale Safe Fisheries web page.

CDFW is requesting written public comments on the updated draft conservation plan, which should be submitted to by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, January 17, 2022. CDFW will review and consider all comments prior to submitting an Incidental Take Permit application to the National Marine Fisheries Service in spring, 2022.

An updated information sheet about the conservation plan is now available online. For more information about CDFW’s Whale Safe Fisheries efforts, please visit the CDFW Whale Safe Fisheries web page.

post by Ryan Bartling, CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist