In a memo released recently, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham, delayed the northern California commercial Dungeness crab season due to meat quality test results. The delayed area includes Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties (Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9).
Samplings conducted on Oct. 27 and Nov. 12 did not yield valid results because the total poundage collected did not meet the minimum criteria established by the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee. Another round of testing is scheduled to occur on or around Dec. 1.
Pursuant to Fish and Game Code 8276.2 (c), the northern Dungeness crab fishery is delayed 15 days until 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec.16, 2020. Assuming there is no additional delay, the fishery will be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020.
“This industry-supported quality test determines if Dungeness crab have filled out in time following their molting period,” said CDFW Environmental Scientist Christy Juhasz. “The crab we tested achieved the minimum quality standard required by the Tri-State testing protocol but did not meet the minimum pounds to yield a valid sample, indicating that this may be a low production year of crab.”
Under a meat quality delay, no vessel may take or land crab in the closed area (i.e., Fish and Game districts 6, 7, 8 and 9). In addition, any vessel that takes, possesses onboard, or lands crab from ocean waters outside of a delayed area is prohibited from participating in the crab fishery once the delayed area opens for an additional 30 days. This applies to any delayed areas in Oregon, Washington and California.
The central California commercial Dungeness crab season which was scheduled to open on Nov 15, 2020 was delayed due to elevated risk of marine life entanglement. CDFW is working with the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group to evaluate if the risk of entanglement has subsided or if an additional delay is needed to protect marine life. CDFW expects to announce the results of the latest risk assessment for the central California fishery early next week.
For more information, see CDFW’s Frequently Asked Questions regarding the 2020-2021 Dungeness crab commercial season. For more information on Dungeness crab, visit: www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab.