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California Fish and Wildlife to close Dungeness crab season for Central Coast fishery

MONTEREY, Calif. (KION-TV) UPDATE MARCH 25, 2022 at 5:39 p.m.-- After assessing entanglement risk the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announces the early closure of the commercial Dungeness crab fishery off the Central Coast.

The closure of the fishery located in Fishing Zones 3, 4, 5 and 6 will take effect at noon on April 8.

The end of the season is being implemented to protect a humpback whale that was entangled in San Mateo County and Monterey Bay.

All commercial Dungeness crab traps must be removed from the fishing area by the April 8 closure date.

“The past few seasons have been difficult for fishing families, communities and businesses, but it is imperative that we strike the right balance between protecting humpback whales and providing fishing opportunity,” said Director Bonham. “The fleet has done an impressive job helping CDFW manage the risk of entanglement in the commercial fishery, including starting to remove fishing gear when the entanglements were first reported. This partnership helps ensure we protect future opportunities to fish and the incredible biodiversity of our ocean.”


After two humpback whales were entangled in fishing gear, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is recommending an early closure for crab season.

The department is recommending April 8 at noon as the end date.

Fish and Wildlife said the first whale entanglement happened off Moss Beach, near San Mateo County. It was first reported on March 11 and confirmed on the 17th.

The second happened on March 19 near Santa Cruz just a few miles off the boardwalk.

The possible early closure only impacts commercial crab fishing and not recreational crabbing.

Giovanni Nevolos has been fishing out of Monterey Bay for almost 45 years. Twenty-five of those years he has been crabbing. It's how he makes his income and provides for his family.

“My food on the table and my bills are tied to fishing. I need that,” said Nevolos. “I really like fishing but I need money too. I really like it for the money.”

Nevolos told KION an early closure would impact him, forcing him to reel in other fish in the sea. 

Nevolos is concerned about the safety of the whales, he said there needs to be a solution for both animals and fishermen.

“Help the fishermen too,” said Nevolos. “Help both because the whales need help but how about the fishermen? We need to live too. We need to survive too.”

Fish and Wildlife’s recommendation is to close the area off from the Sonoma-Mendocino County line down to the Mexico border. Fish and Wildlife said it will help minimize entanglement risk. 

On Wednesday, the Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group is meeting to talk about the entanglements.

“They will discuss that this afternoon,” said Ryan Bartling, a Senior Environmental Scientist with the department. “Based on the available data, they will also make a recommendation.”

But the final decision on whether to close crab season early lies with the Fish and Wildlife Director Charles Bonham. Bartling said a decision could be made at the end of the week. 

Click here to see the recommendations made by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

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Ana Torrea

Weekend Anchor/Reporter for KION News Channel 5/46


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