Tag Archives: California Department of Fish and Wildlife

California crabbing rules a concern says North Coast fisherman

Local crab fisherman Mike Cunningham said he’s spoken with fishermen across the West Coast who take issue with the new rules. “We always look to avoid entanglements with whales,” Cunningham said. “The biggest problem (with the new rules) is that they are talking about closing massive areas to fishing. You could have an entanglement problem near Monterey, and the director (of Fish and Wildlife) could close the waters from Monterey up past Humboldt.” There are six fishing zones along the state’s coast. “The director now has the authority to do anything at any time,” Cunningham said. “Now, sometimes, it may just be a fleet advisory or warning, but it could go all the way to closing the entire coast to crab fishing.” The new rules stem from a lawsuit filed against the state by the Center for Biological Diversity, settled in 2019, >click to read< 19:48

Dungeness crab season might not open for Thanksgiving again

New state regulations may mean that Dungeness crabs won’t be in stores in time for Thanksgiving. The rules, aimed at preventing entanglements    “I want to make sure it’s understood what kind of effort we’re putting into it as fishermen and how effective we’ve been,” said Dick Ogg, a Bodega Bay fisherman and a member of the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group that developed the rules. He said that fishermen have worked hard to make sure their gear is set up better to lower risk. “We’ve really reduced our interaction and entanglement rates.” Ogg said there is a lot of anxiety in the fishing fleet about what will happen with the coming season and whether they should start gearing up for a Nov. 15 opening or whether it will be delayed. >click to read< 10:01

CARES Act: California Fisheries Relief Funding Soon to be Available for Select Sectors Affected by Coronavirus

Coastal and marine fishery participants – including licensed commercial fishermen, fish buyers, aquaculture businesses, charter boat owners and guides – who have experienced a loss of income due to the effects of COVID-19 may be eligible for federal relief funding disbursed through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). The funding is part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This more than $2 trillion economic relief package provides direct economic assistance for American workers, families and small businesses that have been impacted COVID-19. About $18 million in CARES funding was earmarked specifically for fisheries assistance in California. >click to read< 12:07

Ropeless gear is not the silver bullet – New technology promises to save the whales by reducing the need for crab fishing lines.

“We are working with fishermen to see what works and what doesn’t and what allows the fisherman to survive economically,” says Geoff Shester, a Monterey-based scientist with nonprofit Ocean. In June, the Ocean Protection Council awarded $500,000 for the testing of pop-up gear in the coming fishing season. The money will pay for five prototypes, including designs by Marina-based Desert Star Systems and Watsonville-based McFarlane Marine Services. The money will also go to fishermen participating in the research. A new crab industry group, California Coast Crab Association, is pushing back. Its president, Ben Platt, described the RAMP regulations as “an existential threat to our livelihoods”,,, >click to read< 08:39

California plans to protect whales from crab traps rankle all sides – one thing was clear, no one’s happy.

Stakeholders on both sides of the aisle had complaints — environmentalists don’t think the protections go far enough, while industry groups say the regulations threaten the economic viability of the crab fishing industry. Set to take effect Nov. 1, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Risk Assessment Mitigation Program (RAMP) will serve as the primary mechanism for mitigating entanglement risk to humpback and blue whales and leatherback sea turtles whose populations are endangered and could suffer additional casualties due to getting caught in Dungeness crab fishing gear. The regulation would replace the interim authority given to the director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife,, >click to read< 09:13

Crab Command and Control – California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group

“Whales getting entangled in fishing gear is a huge crisis,” says John Mellor, a commercial fisherman and a member of the working group since its inception. “It has to be dealt with, and dealt with in real time.” Once or twice a month during Dungeness crab fishing season, which normally runs from November 15 to July 15, scientists in the working group conduct a series of mini research projects looking at four risk factors for entanglements: how many whales and sea turtles are around, where whales are likely to forage, the number and locations of recorded entanglements, and information about fishermen, including their landing data, license numbers, and the locations of their traps. >cxlick to read< 08:35

New rules for California Dungeness crab fleet

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife on Friday unveiled a batch of complex new rules designed to reduce the risk to endangered whales and sea turtles of becoming entangled in commercial Dungeness crab fishing gear. The draft regulations are set to be finalized before the next commercial season starts in November after a period of public review. Among the provisions are options to restrict fishing in certain depths, require crabbers to set only a share of the traps for which they’re permitted or limit intervention to any of six newly established geographic zones, rather than the larger Northern and Central California management districts that currently exist. >click to read< 09:14

Squid fishing season is off to a good start in Monterey Bay after a dismal 2019.

The 2020-2021 commercial squid fishing season started on April 1 and dozens of boats can be seen dotting the horizon of Monterey Bay as the squid return, this year in better numbers. “This has actually been one of the best Aprils we’ve had since 2010,” says Pete Guglielmo, a buyer and processor with Southern Cal Seafood, Inc. “Usually when the squid show up this early in the season, it’s proved to be a very good fishing season for the industry.” The squid are also larger than they’ve been in the last several years, and in high demand. >click to read< 09:04

Squid are back in abundance in Monterey Bay

The squid fishery is among the most lucrative and productive in the state, frequently valued in the double-digit millions. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, landings from California market squid (Doryteuthis opalescens) were over 34,000 short tons in the 2018-2019 season, generating more than $33 million in revenue. But according to Diane Pleschner-Steele, the executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, these charming and elusive animals can be difficult to pin down. The statement has proven true in the last couple of years. Spawning squid are targeted because they die shortly after they reproduce, and so fishing season — though technically open all year round — coincides with the spawning season. The catch is historically best in Southern California in fall and Central California in spring-summer. >click to read< 10:35

Dungeness Crab Season Closed Early Due to Dubious Whale Crisis, COVID-19 Economic Impact on Coastal Communities Made Worse by Closure

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced that effective May 15, 2020, the commercial Dungeness crab fishing season, which began in December, will be closed due to the perceived risk of commercial crab fishing gear harming migratory whales. Ironically, as a result of ongoing cooperative measures between the California Dungeness crab fishing fleet and CDFW, interactions between Dungeness crab fishing gear and the two subgroups of Humpback whales, or Distinct Population Segments (DPS), which are “endangered” and “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) are extremely rare. “The risk of crab fishing gear harming endangered whales is statistically insignificant because of low concentrations of whale, as well as the relatively small amounts of gear being deployed along the Central California coast,” said Ben Platt, president of the California Coast Crab Association (CCCA). >click to read< 12:26

CDFW’s Salmon Evacuation Decision Pays Exceptional Dividends

In February 2017, damage to the Oroville Dam’s spillways prompted the evacuation of more than 180,000 people living downstream along the Feather River. The raging muddy waters also triggered an emergency decision to relocate millions of young salmon from the Feather River Hatchery to the Thermalito Annex Hatchery to be raised and held until river water conditions improved. Most, if not all, of the young salmon would have otherwise died when mud from the raging river overwhelmed the hatchery waters. >click to read< 08:39

California agrees with crabbers to postpone Dungeness crab season

Bodega Bay’s commercial fishing fleet succeeded Wednesday in persuading state wildlife officials to postpone the opening of Dungeness crab season to safeguard protected whales species still lingering in the fishing grounds. In a move at the behest of the crab industry, Chuck Bonham, the state fish and wildlife director, agreed to push back the season opener to Dec. 15. Crab fishing was slated to open Friday along the coast from Sonoma to San Mateo counties.  The decision is subject to two days of public comment ending Friday afternoon. >click to read< 07:17

Dungeness Crab season’s delay causing instability

Randy Smith stood on the harbor sidewalk talking with a group of fellow fishermen, their large commercial fishing boats – piled high with empty crab traps – swaying at the docks. They had hoped to be fishing by now, but instead are left deciding where to go. Smith’s crew of five had planned to fish in their home waters during the holidays, but with the crabbing season delayed, they’re preparing for two months down south in his boat, the Mistasea.  >click to read< 06:48

Dungeness crab season may be delayed

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife made the announcement Friday in response to a settlement with an environmental group over whale entanglements in commercial Dungeness crab fishing gear.,,, Even if the eight-day delay to the commercial season happens, it should not disrupt the Bay Area tradition of cracked Dungeness crab on the Thanksgiving table, said Noah Oppenheim, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. However, it would cut into a peak period for the local fishing fleet, >click to read< 08:02

California fishermen report the biggest salmon season in a decade

California commercial fishermen are reporting the biggest king salmon season in a decade, on the heels of three years of disastrously low catches because of the drought. The sudden bounty has resulted in a price drop for the coral-pink, fatty fillets to $20 per pound in many markets, down from the $30- to $35-per-pound range of recent years. “You might say this is the old normal, because we’ve been so used to catastrophe,” said Noah Oppenheim, >click to read<19:37

Commercial salmon season starts in Crescent City

Commercial salmon fishermen in Crescent City began their season on Saturday with a quota of 20 chinook per day and a monthly quota of 2,500, according to Crescent City Harbor Commissioner and Del Norte Fisherman’s Association president Rick Shepherd. The 20-fish-per-day quota and monthly quota of 2,500 applies to trawlers fishing between the Oregon border and the Humboldt South Jetty, said Shepherd, whose boat is one of roughly six in Crescent City that fish for chinook. The fleet is able to ply its trade on the ocean five days a week Friday through Tuesday. While a few fish have been brought into Eureka, so far no one has brought any salmon into the local harbor, Shepherd said. >click to read>07:50

Epic catch brings tons of fresh fish to the Central Coast

Salmon are running in epic numbers this year off the Central Coast, and that means lots of fresh fish for commercial fishermen and hungry customers.
This year’s salmon season, which started commercially on May 1, is the best local fishermen have seen in 20 years.  “It’s like Christmas for us,” DeGarimore said. “This is the biggest salmon catch we’ve had in the past two decades. We’re all really excited to see the boats coming in. Tourists are taking photos. Salmon are beautiful fish, and they make spectacular fillets. >click to read<15:14

PFMC Officials: No Sardine Fishing Off California This Year Due to Steep Population Decline

West coast regulators have voted unanimously to ban commercial sardine fishing for the fifth straight year after a recent evaluation of the northern Pacific stock revealed a steep decline. The ban on commercial sardine catch spans the entire length of the U.S. West Coast.,,, A new assessment of northern Pacific sardine stocks by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).,,, Not all fishermen agree with the decision to keep the sardine fishery shuttered. Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director- California Wetfish Producers Association, said NOAA’s sardine survey under-counts the fish, and that the fishermen she hears from are noticing a comeback. >click to read<10:59

‘We Were Blindsided:’ Crab Fishing Closure Could Mean Millions in Losses

At the April 9 Humboldt County Board of Supervisors meeting, the security check-in station resembled a metropolitan airport with a long line of people stretched out the courthouse doors and halfway down the stairs to Fifth Street. All seats in the chamber were filled, the space between the chairs and the wall was filled with people standing, and others waited outside the door for a chance to speak. The source of the commotion was a sudden and unexpected closure of the Dungeness crab fishery. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife had ordered all crab fishermen throughout the state to remove their gear from the ocean by April 15. >click to read<14:40

At Humboldt County Board of Supervisors – Blindsided Crabbers Congregate

As the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors meeting got underway at its normal 9 a.m. start time, there was still a line of people extending out the front door,,, local crab fishermen who had shown up in force to support a resolution aimed at saving the local fishery from “devastating economic harm,” The threat comes in the form of a recent CBD – PCFFA settlement,,, “We were blindsided by this ruling,” said crab fisherman Zach Rotwein of Trinidad.,,, Pacific Choice Seafoods General Manager Rick Harris said his company recently made a $1.2 million investment,,, “This is a travesty and a disaster for the community,” said crab fisherman Patrick Davis, who owns two fishing boats and employs “eight or nine guys.” >click to read<22:49

California – Commercial Dungeness Crab Season to Close Statewide April 15

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham issued a declaration to close the commercial Dungeness crab fishery statewide at 11:59 p.m. on April 15, 2019 due to increased whale entanglement risk anticipated for the spring and summer months. ,,,, Therefore, the Director has declared that the commercial Dungeness crab fishery will close at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, April 15, 2019.  For more information >click to read<10:08

Harbor responds to whale entanglement settlement, give crabbers extra free time to store gear

Recognizing they had the “rug pulled out from under them” due to the outcome of a lawsuit over whale and sea turtle entanglements, Crescent City Harbor commissioners have given the local Dungeness fleet extra time to store their crab pots for free at the port. Commissioners voted 4-0-1 Thursday to allow fishermen to store their pots for free from April 1 to May 15. The Harbor District’s decision comes after the Center for Biological Diversity reached a settlement agreement with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to end the current commercial Dungeness season statewide three months early on April 15. >click to read<10:21

California Crabbers Could Feel the Pain, State Reaches Tentative Agreement With Enviro Group Over Whale Entanglement

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity have tentatively agreed to settle an ongoing lawsuit, which claims that the state’s lack of action in preventing whales from becoming entangled in commercial crabbing lines violates the Endangered Species Act.,,, The Center for Biological Diversity filed the suit in 2017 after a record number of entangled whales were observed off the coast of the Western United States between 2014 and 2016. >click to read<08:55

West Coast Fishermen cautiously optimistic for strong salmon season

After three difficult years when Chinook salmon population numbers were down and fishing opportunities were limited, commercial fishermen are hoping that the upcoming season will be better. “What we’re seeing is a better forecast of salmon in the ocean this year than we saw last year,” said Harry Morse, public information officer for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, following a meeting with about 85 commercial and recreational anglers on Wednesday in Santa Rosa. “We’re cautiously optimistic.” >click to read<10:31

California could be held liable for whale entanglements

The Center for Biological Diversity is hopeful its lawsuit filed over whale and sea turtle entanglements is nearing its conclusion after a federal judge suggested she may find the California Department of Fish and Wildlife liable for the entanglements, a center spokesman said.,,, The two parties have until March 13 to work out their differences and report back to the judge. If no settlement is reached, the judge will issue a finding. >click to read<12:17

Northern California Commercial Dungeness Crab Season Delay Extended

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham announced an additional and final 15-day delay of the northern California commercial Dungeness crab season. Pending possible closures due to elevated levels of domoic acid, the season is now set to begin on Jan. 15, 2019. Quality tests as prescribed by the Pre-Season Testing Protocol for the Tri-State Coastal Dungeness Commercial Fishery were scheduled to occur this week, but rough ocean conditions prevented vessels from safely deploying and retrieving traps. This protocol requires that tested crab achieve a meat recovery rate to ensure that crab are ready for harvest. Previous quality test results from Dungeness crab collected on Nov. 3 and Dec. 4 indicated that crab did not have enough meat. Without any passing test results from these areas, the Director continued to delay the season to Jan. 15, the final date a quality delay can be set to occur. >click to read<

McGuire tackles crabbing, whale entanglement issues at committee hearing

“Domoic acid levels in the Pacific this year have been trending upwards, especially in Northern California,” McGuire said at the start of the hearing, held at Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco. “Humboldt, Del Norte and southern Oregon have appeared as hot spots along the West Coast.” And while the 2015 crabbing season and spike in entanglements was one of the more talked-about issues during the hearing, McGuire added, “We do not expect another statewide closure like we saw in 2015.” This year alone, there have been 27 confirmed whale entanglements. That’s down from the 71 reported in 2016, but it is still more than double the state average.>click to read<10:31

California seeks plan to protect whales and Dungeness crab fishery

Whales are a big deal, literally, as the most majestic, largest animals swimming off our shore. What the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has done in the past several years with our partners to prevent whale entanglements in fishing gear is a big deal, too.,, That is why our department is taking actions to protect the whales and our prized crab fishery. The department is working to create a conservation plan that will analyze the effects of crab fishing on whales, identify steps to minimize the risk of whale entanglements in the crab fishing gear, secure funding to implement the plan, and submit it to the federal government for needed approval. >click to read<12:14

Salmon surge: Habitat improvements paying off on one California river

Near record numbers of chinook salmon are surging up the Mokelumne River, marking the second large spawning year in a row and signaling to fisheries biologists that habitat improvements in recent years are paying off for fish and the people who eat the pinkish delicacies.,,,It is expected to be the best two-year run on the river since records started being kept in 1940, a significant accomplishment given how dismal salmon returns have been over the past three years in virtually every other waterway in California, including the Sacramento River, which last year saw its lowest returns in eight years. >click to read<08:58

Commercial Dungeness crab season delayed in Northern California

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham issued a memo Tuesday delaying the Northern California commercial Dungeness crab season due to poor crab meat quality test results. The delay includes Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 (Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties). The northern Dungeness crab fishery is delayed until 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, Dec.16, pending another round of test results tentatively scheduled for Dec. 1. If these results indicate good quality, the fishery will open and be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13. >click to read<12:13