Oregon’s Dungeness crab fishery will open 16 December, while crabbers in California will have to wait at least until at least 21 December to begin setting traps.
Fishermen from Oregon’s border with California up to Cape Foulweather, about halfway up the U.S. state’s coast, have gotten the go-ahead from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to begin laying traps at 8 a.m. on 13 December, after the department’s testing of meat recovery and domoic acid levels registered within healthy ranges.
Originally scheduled to open 1 December, Oregon’s opener was delayed twice. The season will remain closed in the state’s northern region and offshore, as well as in the U.S. state of Washington, until at least 31 December, pending tests conducted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife that show a bettering of meat yield.
“The ocean commercial Dungeness crab season in Oregon can be delayed or partially opened to ensure consumers receive a high-quality product and to prevent wastage of crabs,” ODFW said.
The commercial Dungeness crab fishery in all of California’s six fishing zones – originally scheduled to open 15 November – will also remain closed due to high numbers of humpback whales and a recent confirmed entanglement of a leatherback sea turtle in commercial Dungeness crab fishing gear lost in a previous season, according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The department said it anticipates it will conduct its next risk assessment on or around 21 December.
In recent years, whales have delayed their southward migration until later in the season in California’s nearshore fishing zones as they have followed the coastal anchovy population, and the delay of the season along most of the coast will mean there are fewer crab available for holiday feasts, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Whales also complicated the 2022 Dungeness season on the U.S. West Coast, causing numerous delays, and fishermen endured low prices once it began.
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