Commercial Dungeness crab fishing is about to be greenlit again for the California coast, though restrictions will remain in place in areas that are home to humpback whales, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife said Thursday.
Commercial fishery can begin on Dec. 31, with a 64-hour “gear setting” period to set up fishing operations beginning on Wednesday.
Fishing zones 3-6, or everywhere along the coast south of Mendocino County, will be allowed to operate under a 50 percent trap reduction in an attempt to avoid snagging migrating humpback whales as they continue to swim toward winter breeding grounds.
Currently, state wildlife officials say the whales are in the waters around the Farrallon Islands and Point Reyes.
DFW will be inspecting commercial fishing operations to ensure that they comply with the rule.
Crabbers are still permitted to catch their take with hoop nets and crab snares.
Areas north of Sonoma County will also open on Dec. 31 but have no restrictions, DFW officials said.
Whale lovers and environmentalists in California had a victory in 2019 when a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity forced the crabbing industry to shorten its season, limit crabbing when whales are present, and expand the use of more humane fishing gear.