New Hoop Net Regulations in Effect

hoop nets
Type A hoop nets, set (R) and being pulled to the surface (L).
CDFW illustration

Hoop net users statewide will want to review new hoop net regulations that went into effect on October 31, 2022, especially since the recreational Dungeness crab season opened during a trap restriction this past Saturday.

Hoop nets are often used instead of traps during a trap restriction. Crabbers may also use crab snares or their hands to capture crab until the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) lifts the trap restriction that was issued for north of Point Arguello, Santa Barbara County.

CDFW may temporarily restrict the use of traps when risk of marine life entanglement is elevated. This restriction is put into place to protect humpback whales, blue whales, and Pacific leatherback sea turtles when they remain feeding within the crabbing grounds. Trap gear creates an entanglement hazard for marine life, especially when left on the grounds for extended periods of time.

Because of the increased popularity of using hoop nets during a trap restriction, CDFW has updated the sport fishing regulations that define hoop net gear, and clarified how to legally use hoop nets. Here is a summary of the updated hoop net regulations:

Statewide

  • Service Interval: Hoop nets must be serviced every two hours; it is unlawful to abandon or leave a hoop net unchecked for more than two hours. Any hoop net left unchecked or abandoned for more than two hours may be seized.

    crab buoy
    Trap buoy configuration for most recreational crabbers.
    CDFW photo by P. Ward
  • Surface Buoy Marking Requirements: A surface buoy is required for hoop nets used offshore (does not include piers and jetties). Surface buoys are to be marked as follows:
    • CPFV – vessel registration
    • Licensed Guide – ID Number
    • For all other cases – 10-digit GO ID Number (simplify with one GO ID for multiple operators).

North of Point Arguello, Santa Barbara County 

  • Hoop Net Allowance: unlimited
    • However, on public piers you cannot use more than two rods and lines, two hand lines, or two nets, traps, or other legal devices (including hoop nets) to take crabs.

Statewide Legal Hoop Net Configurations 

Type A Hoop Net

Type A hoop net
Type A hoop net. CDFW photo by R. Bartling
  •  Fishing gear that is comprised of one to three rigid ring(s), with each ring measuring no greater than 36 inches in inside diameter nor less than 10 inches in inside diameter, connected to non-metallic soft mesh, thereby forming a circular-shaped net with an enclosed bottom.
  • Lift lines shall be attached only to the top ring.
  • A second and third rigid ring(s) may be connected by non-metallic soft mesh to the top ring; however, each ring must be equal in size to or smaller than the ring above it.
  • When the net is being raised the top ring shall be above and parallel to all other rings, with the enclosed bottom portion of the non-metallic soft mesh even with or hanging below all other rings.
  • All parts of the hoop net shall collapse and lie flat when resting on the ocean floor in such a manner that the gear does not entrap or restrict the free movement of crustaceans until lifted.
  • When suspended from lift lines, the entire hoop net shall measure no taller than 36 inches.
  • The ring material shall not be thicker than one inch in any dimension.

Type B Hoop Net

Type B hoop nets
Type B hoop nets. CDFW photo by R. Bartling
  • Fishing gear that is comprised of two rigid rings (not including the bait ring), with the bottom ring measuring no greater than 36 inches in inside diameter and the top ring measuring no less than 15 inches in inside diameter.
  • The top ring shall be connected to the bottom ring and supported by no more than six rigid straight support arms, and the assembled frame shall measure no more than 10 inches tall.
  • The rings and support material shall not be thicker than one inch in any dimension.
  • All rings shall be connected by non-metallic soft mesh, thereby forming a net with an enclosed bottom, and lift lines shall be attached only to the top ring.
  • When suspended from lift lines the enclosed bottom portion of the net shall be even with or hanging below all other rings, and the entire net shall measure no taller than 30 inches.
  • A bait ring may be attached to the net as long as the ring is not part of the rigid frame.
  • No additional entrances are allowed below the top ring.

This summary of hoop net regulations is available for download, and additional information including frequently asked questions about crab traps and hoop nets is available on the CDFW Crabs web page.


post by CDFW Staff