Tag Archives: California Department of Fish and Wildlife

CDFW Director calls for statewide closure to mediocre crab season on June 1, due to presence of Whales

This decision was not what the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group recommended, said Del Norte County District 4 Supervisor Gerry Hemmingsen, a crab fisherman who is part of the working group. While many crab fishermen pulled in their gear earlier than normal, the few that are still fishing will be impacted by this decision, For crab fishermen in central California, the season closure comes roughly four weeks early. Despite his decision, Bonham acknowledged the difficult season many commercial crab fishermen have had. >click to read< 09:01

Commercial Dungeness Crab fleet ordered to end operations June 1 for whale endangerment concerns

An order to end the current crabbing season six weeks early in Northern California will deliver another blow to crab fishermen in Humboldt County after seeing record low landings this season, fishermen said. “The price on crab is very high right now. There might not be the most participation (out of the season) but there are still a lot of people who rely on springtime crabbing at a very high price,” he said. “It is quite unfortunate and sad that it is going to be closed earlier than normal.” California Department of Fish and Wildlife director Charlton Bonham ordered the state’s commercial dungeness crab fishing fleet to end its activities at noon on June 1, approximately six weeks earlier than the normal July 15 end for Northern California crab fishermen. All crab lines must be cleared by the end time set. >click to read< 08:33

Multiple challenges hamper commercial Dungeness crab season

The commercial Dungeness season in California opened late because the state’s Risk Assessment Mitigation Plan (RAMP), which is in full-force for the first time this season,,, “It’s a little bit tough right now,” said Dick Ogg, who has fished commercially out of Bodega Bay for more than 20 years. “That’s kind of an understatement.” Ogg is a member of the Dungeness Crab Gear Working Group, which contributed to the RAMP. Ogg says he and other vessel operators have come up with a variety of strategies to reduce the chances of migrating whales or endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtles getting tangled up in gear. Ogg pulled his crab gear out early this year, deciding to put his energy into prepping for the salmon season. But he said for the vessels still at it, the higher market prices made up for low catches.  >click to read< 14:08

California Fishermen are worried about the commercial salmon season

The commercial salmon season typically starts on May 1, but the season’s start for the coastal area of California is expected to be delayed due to low salmon numbers. Instead of having a wide-open season from May to September, there will likely be only one to two weeks each month for fishing, with expectations for a late June start for the Bay Area, according to Kandice Morgenstern, an environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Ocean Salmon Project. “It’s very personal, and it hits home. Don’t put your eggs all in that basket,” Half Moon Bay fisherman Don Marshall said.  >click to read< 08:54

Shipwreck lodged on Marin coast probed for pollution threat remains in place

Nearly a month after a 90-foot fishing boat ran aground on the Marin coast, the wreckage remains in place while specialists assess the risk of environmental damage. A team of marine engineers and safety experts has been enlisted to determine how much fuel is aboard the American Challenger, which drifted to shore on March 6. So far, the contractors have evaluated 13 of the 17 tanks onboard, but progress was halted when the ship shifted, making work conditions unsafe,,, >click to read< 08:08

Misguided AB 534 ‘Pop-Up Crab Gear’ Will Hurt Whales, Fishing Families, Coastal Communities

Data Show Whale Populations Soaring, Virtually No Interactions with Crab Gear! Recently, Assembly Member Bonta of the California Legislature introduced a bill, AB 534 that if passed, would require faulty and failure prone ropeless fishing gear, as determined by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), to be used when taking any species of fish for commercial or recreational purposes when using a trap. AB 534 promotes an unproven and unviable fishing method that presents significant operational and safety risks to West Coast fisheries and that will result in more harm to marine life. The bill is an end-run around existing state and federal regulatory >click to read< 13:32

Bill 534 could eliminate whale entanglements, hurt (destroy) the crab fishery – 03/4/2021, Authored by Rob Bonta-D California, in collaboration with Social Compassion in Legislation and the Center for Biological Diversity, Assembly Bill 534 argues that crabbers use antiquated trapping gear >click to read< 

California Commercial Dungeness Crab Update

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) just completed the most recent marine life entanglement risk assessment under the Risk Assessment Mitigation Program (RAMP). Recent survey data indicate most Humpback and Blue whales remain outside of the California fishing grounds, however a few Humpback whales have begun to return to Monterey Bay and the Gulf of the Farallones. As a result, the Director of CDFW has issued a statewide Fleet Advisory for the commercial Dungeness crab fishery for all Fishing Zones (Oregon state line to Mexico). >click to read< 08:22

California salmon season delayed and shortened, angering North Bay fishermen. Closest start may be May 1

Expected to be decided within the next few weeks, there are three proposals on the table, all shorten the season considerably. The closest start may be May 1, instead of April. Association President John McManus predicted a 40% loss in the season for sports fishermen, while Crescent City commercial fisherman George Bradshaw predicted the industry’s take would be down by two thirds. The bad news for a delayed and restricted salmon fishing season comes on the heels of a slow, sputtering start for crab fishing fleets, which were stalled while fishery officials waited for migrating whales to leave the coastal region. >click to read< 08:05

Wreckage Removal on Hold! F/V American Challenger stuck on Marin coast until salvage funds identified

State and federal officials are wrapping up their emergency response to a wrecked fishing vessel on the northern Marin coast,,, Tom Cullen, administrator for the state Office of Spill Prevention and Response, was outwardly frustrated by the long-running discussions about the problem and, in particular, by the American Challenger — an uninsured boat from out of state on its way to be scuttled being towed by a tugboat that also was uninsured.,, Both the tugboat and the 1975 American Challenger are owned by Ship International Inc., whose principal, Felix Vera, are not able to fund the salvage. video, >click to read< 10:04

State and local agencies continue work to address grounded vessel at Dillon Beach

Officials said the Coast Guard Sector San Francisco watchstanders received initial reports at 8:45 a.m. Friday, March 5, that the American Challenger was being towed southward by the Tug Hunter from Puget Sound, Washington, when the Tug Hunter lost propulsion due to a rope entangling the propeller. On Tuesday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said marine surveyors boarded the American Challenger to continue their inspection of the vessel’s fuel tanks by using sound tapes and paste to get an accurate reading of the amount of fuel aboard. >click to read< 07:45

Oil contamination found at Marin beach when vessel grounds following towing incident

The incident happened Friday morning while the 90-foot fishing boat was being towed south from the Seattle area, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The tugboat Hunter became disabled when a rope got tangled in its propeller. Rough sea and poor visibility forced the tug crew to discontinue the job, the department said. The tugboat was towed to Sausalito, and the fishing boat drifted into the rocks south of Estero de San Antonio. The boat, named American Challenger, is being watched by officials,,, On Monday, the Coast Guard did not have an estimated time in which the fishing boat could be removed. >click to read< 12:10

This Year’s Dungeness Crab Fishery a Shell of its Former Self

Noyo Harbor: How’s the Dungeness crab season playing out this year? Word on the dock is grim

Dungeness crab season is off to a pitiful start this year. Some crabbers pulled their gear out and threw the towel in just one day into the season.,,, Gene Mathieuso, whose family has worked in the fishing industry since the early 20th century said that he has seen years as bad as this before.“1973 was probably the worst season we’ve ever had,” he said. “Landings were less than a million, at 880,000 pounds.” For reference, the average total California dungeness catch from 2010 to 2020 was around 14 million pounds. Mathieuso said he anticipates that this year will rival 1973. photos, >click to read< 12:25

California lobstermen ride high-price wave from China

Since it became home to California’s first lobster fishery in the early 1870s, the coastal city of Santa Barbara has established a long and proud history of lobster fishing. The industry is now experiencing a surge in demand because of a trade war between nations that are thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean. Almost all of the lobsters caught in the waters off of Santa Barbara’s coast this season will end up in China, where an ongoing dispute with Australia has worked to the advantage of California’s lobster fishing community. The surge in demand from Chinese markets has resulted in high prices that fishermen and distributors here say are without precedent, as well as plenty of uncertainty. >click to read< 08:36

Five Days In, Crescent City Fishermen Continue To Pull Up Empty Crab Pots

“It’s a bleak year”,,,  After a delay initially due to poor quality crab and later because of price negotiations with seafood processors, Del Norte County fishermen and others on the North Coast were able to pull their crab pots at 8 a.m. on Saturday. But four hours into the season, when dock workers and fishermen should have been offloading the first of their catch, Citizens Dock was still quiet.,, Since fishermen went to work, Pacific Choice Seafoods and other processors raised the price they were offering to $4 per pound,,, >click to read< 07:32

California: Don’t expect Dungeness Crab for Christmas this year

“Unless a miracle happens, which is highly unlikely, we won’t see crab for Christmas,” said Tony Anello, a veteran fisher who runs his boat, the Annabelle, out of Bodega Bay and offers up his tender product at Spud Point Crab Co. After several years of varied setbacks and more than a month of delays to the 2020 Dungeness season, local crabbers now face a new hurdle as they haggle over price with large wholesalers. “We should be traveling right now,” Dick Ogg,,, wholesalers are asking skippers to cut their prices by 30% to 35%, leaving both sides approximately $1 a pound apart from an agreement that would start the crab season.   >click to read< 08:05

Ben Platt: Whales aren’t at risk from crab fishing along California’s coast

Anyone who lives in or near California’s many historic fishing communities like Morro Bay, Monterey, or Half Moon Bay, has probably heard the term “ropeless” crab fishing gear. That’s the new buzzword for equipment being promoted by environmental groups to solve the perceived problem of whale interactions with fishing gear.,,, Both the East Coast Lobster fishery and the West Coast Dungeness crab fishery, each of which are made up of thousands of independent fishermen, have tested the pop-up “ropeless” gear and found it to be faulty. Meanwhile, strikes by large ships likely cause 50-150 whale deaths a year off the West Coast,,,  >click to read< 07:31

Extended delay – Commercial Dungeness Crab fishing ban extended until Dec. 16

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife extended the delay of commercial crab fishing Nov. 24 from Point Arena down to Mexico after it spotted whales in crab fishing grounds. Scott Edson fishes in Half Moon Bay and isn’t surprised by the delay extension until Dec. 16. He expects the current delay to last even longer. Edson said the delays are a disaster for commercial fishermen trying to survive during a tough season and a pandemic. Increased delays cost him money in an already limited season,,, >click to read< 08:59

Monterey Bay Fishermen hit with new wave of Dungeness crab season delays

You couldn’t blame crab fishermen Tim and Dan Obert for feeling like they’re passing through the perfect storm. First there was the pandemic, which shut down restaurants and, in turn, much of the demand for Dungeness crab. Then a new regulation took effect on Nov. 1 that heavily restricts the Dungeness fishery’s operations when whales and sea turtles are around. Then the state delayed the opening of the Dungeness crab season until after Thanksgiving. “If you take all three of those things, you will destroy this fishery,” said Tim Obert, 35, of Scotts Valley. “There will be no crabbers left.” >click to read< 08:47

Local Dungeness crab fishermen oppose new fish and wildlife regulations

The regulations are a product of concerns surrounding how often whales and other endangered species are getting caught in the ropes used to fish crabs. The regulations were met with some resistance from the local fishing community. However, conservationists argue the rules will do more good than harm to wildlife. Tim Obert, a fisherman, strongly opposes,,, “You’re driving down the street and you accidentally run over a squirrel or maybe you hit a deer on a mountain road, it doesn’t mean you go park your car in the garage and never turn it on again or never leave your house,” he said. Ben Platt, the President of the California Coast Crab Association, also opposes the regulations,,, >click to read< 08:13

California crab fisherman are concerned the so-called ‘ropeless’ fishing gear, is not the answer

Is the so-called “ropeless” fishing gear the silver bullet for solving the perceived problem of marine mammal interactions in California’s crab fisheries. Several profit-driven environmental groups, including Oceana would like the public and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to believe these baseless claims. That’s because these groups are ramping up efforts to force California’s historic and economically most important fishery – which helps create millions of dollars annually for working families – to adopt expensive, impractical and unworkable new fishing gear, which would force most crab fishermen out of business. By Johnny Atkinson  >click to read< 15:33

Punitive New Rules Will Crush CA Dungeness Crab Fishing Families, Threaten Holiday Crab Traditions

This week, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) put into effect onerous new regulations that among other things, could delay or close the state’s iconic crab fishery if whales are present near the crab grounds and could economically devastate our coastal communities that rely on the fishing and seafood industry. Called the Risk Assessment Mitigation Program (RAMP), these punitive rules also include triggers for crab fishery closures that are more restrictive than even the strictest fishery laws in the nation, the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). “Regulators seem to be more concerned about the optics in the media of the rare occurrence of an entangled whale than the fact that the populations of these marine mammals, which migrate off our coast, are skyrocketing, and may soon be eligible for removal from the Endangered Species List,” said Ben Platt, president of the California Coast Crab Association (CCCA). >click to read< 10:02

CDFW: Commercial crab season will be delayed due to the presence of whales

The commercial Dungeness crab season in the central management area, which was scheduled to open Sunday, Nov. 15, will be delayed due to the presence of whales within fishing grounds and the potential for entanglement.,, “While no one wants to delay the season, CDFW and the Working Group feel a delay is necessary to reduce the risk of entanglement,”  said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “The fleet has gone to great lengths to be more nimble in order to protect whales and turtles, and the results are promising. This year for the first time in a long time it looks like we don’t have to worry about domoic acid, which is good news.” >click to read< 15:05

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