Monday, November 18, 2019

Crab Quality Delays Commercial Season Opening

Posted By on Mon, Nov 18, 2019 at 12:46 PM

click to enlarge Another crab season, another delay. - C. JUHASZ/CDFW WEBSITE
  • C. Juhasz/CDFW website
  • Another crab season, another delay.
The commercial crab season for Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties is being delayed due to “poor crab meat quality tests,” according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

But there’s still hope for crab by New Year's,  if not Christmas.

In a Nov. 15 memo, CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham wrote that “quality tests conducted on Nov. 3, 2019, indicate the crabs will not be ready for harvest on Dec. 1, 2019.”

For now, the season is pushed back to Dec. 16. Another round of testing will take to place around Dec. 1 to determine if the crabs have fattened up enough, otherwise the start date could be delayed again until Dec. 31.

“The season can be delayed no later than Jan. 15, which is what happened in the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 seasons,” the CDFW release notes.

Meanwhile, the Sonoma County and south region is set for a commercial opening Nov. 21 — barring any domoic acid concerns that could postpone the start — after being delayed due to concerns about marine life entanglements.

A humpback whale that washed up in Samoa tangled in fishing gear Oct. 24 had to be euthanized.

The are from Point Reyes in Marin County to the northern boundary of Pillar Point State Marine Conservation Area in San Mateo County is still waiting to be cleared due to domoic acid.

For more information, visit

Read the full CDFW release below:
In a memo released (Nov. 15), CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham delayed the northern California commercial Dungeness crab season due to poor crab meat quality test results. The delayed area in the north includes Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties (Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9).

The northern Dungeness crab fishery is delayed until 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 16, 2019 pending another round of testing tentatively scheduled on or around Dec. 1. If these results indicate good quality and there is no area under an additional domoic acid delay, the fishery will open Monday, Dec. 16, and be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin 8:01 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 13, 2019.

Crab are evaluated to compare meat weight to total crab weight to determine whether they are ready for harvest under testing guidelines established by the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee in conjunction with tests done in Oregon and Washington. If results indicate poor crab quality, the CDFW director may delay the fishery under authority of Fish and Game Code, section 8276.2.

“This industry-supported quality test determines if Dungeness crab have filled out in time following their molting period,” said CDFW Environmental Scientist Christy Juhasz.

If the next round of quality testing continues to show low quality crab, Director Bonham has the authority to delay the season an additional 15 days, until Dec. 31. The season can be delayed no later than Jan. 15, which is what happened in the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 seasons.

Central Management Area (Fish and Game Districts 10 and south):

The Central Management Area (Sonoma County and south) was delayed seven days by declaration of the Director to avoid marine life entanglements and opens at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 22, assuming no additional delays due to domoic acid. This opening is preceded by an 18-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 6:01 a.m. on Nov. 21.

However, ocean waters between Point Reyes, Marin County (38° 00.00’ N. latitude) and the northern boundary of Pillar Point State Marine Conservation Area in San Mateo County (37° 30.00’ N. latitude) has yet to clear for domoic acid. The opening or delay of the fishery in this area will be announced prior to 6 p.m. on Nov. 20. If the scheduled opener in this area is declared delayed, the fleet will be informed when the area is cleared of domoic acid and, pursuant to Fish and Game Code, section 5523, will be given a 72-hour notice before pre-soak is to commence.

The fleet will be notified via press release and the Dungeness Crab Task Force email listserv as well as the CDFW Domoic Acid Fishery Closure Information Line at (831) 649-2883. All individuals planning to fish in this area are strongly encouraged to check these sources in order to confirm the opening time prior to setting their gear in this area.

For more information, please visit and read CDFW’s Frequently Asked Questions on the 2019-2020 Dungeness crab commercial season.

For more information on health advisories related to fisheries, please visit
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Kimberly Wear

Kimberly Wear is the assistant editor of the North Coast Journal.

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