As the recreational Dungeness crab season begins off California on Nov. 6, the use of crab traps will be temporarily prohibited in Fishing Zones 3 and 4, from the Sonoma/Mendocino county line to Lopez Point, in Monterey County.
The commercial Dungeness season will be delayed in those two zones.
Both decisions were made Monday by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife because of the risk that humpback whales and leatherback sea turtles will be entangled in trap and buoy lines.
On or before Nov. 22, the risk will be reassessed for both recreational and commercial crabbing in Zones 3 and 4, and rules will be adjusted accordingly.
The recreational rules:
• In Zones 1, 2, 5 and 6, use of crab traps (crab pots) will be allowed starting Nov. 6.
• In Zones 3 and 4, crab traps will not be allowed until the restriction is lifted by the DFW director. Hoop nets, crab snares and hand lines will be allowed in all zones.
• In all zones, there are new rules concerning buoys, maximum number of traps and frequency of monitoring. Anyone using a crab trap must purchase a $2.42 trap validation.
The commercial rules:
• Zones 5 and 6 are scheduled to open to commercial crabbing Nov. 15, pending results of testing for domoic acid.
• In Zones 3 and 4, the opener will be delayed until there is a suitably diminished risk of marine animal entanglement.
• Zones 1 and 2 are scheduled to open Dec. 1, also depending on results of crab meat quality tests.
Since 2015, all but one commercial Dungeness season in California has been delayed, either because of the marine animal entanglement issue or because of domoic acid, a naturally occurring toxin that contaminates shellfish.
For more information on Dungeness crab regulations, visit wildlife.ca.gov/crab.
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