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Ropeless fishing gear could prevent future crab season delays

MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. (KION-TV)- Crab season for commercial fishery closed a couple weeks ago. Since then, fishermen are able to apply for permits to keep fishing using alternative gear.

Researchers KION spoke with say there is one big reason why this is necessary. 

“We’re starting to see an influx of humpback whales," Elliott Hazen who is a Research ecologist for NOAA said.

Recently the season for Dungeness crabs has been delayed in order to avoid entanglements with whales impacting fisherman and their business.

Scientists like Ryan Bartling are working to have crab fisherman and whales coexist.

“Provide additional fishing opportunities when entanglement risk is high at this stage it’s not looking to replace the existing fishery or the traditional gear." State Department of Fish and Wildlife Environmental Scientist Ryan Bartling said. "But during the late spring and early summer months when the fishery would sometimes be closed this will provide a way for fishermen to continue to fish."

The new gear is helping out fisherman and the idea is to be able to use rope less equipment. 

“They’re still using what would be considered a traditional crab trap, the difference between that line is the rope that goes to the surface is actually stored in the trap," Bartling said.

The gear is being tested through an experimental fishing permit program. About 30 fisherman are testing it out. 

“At this stage the gear is relatively new and there are some costs associated with it," Bartling said. "I think it does provide a potential way for fishermen to collect crab and a revenue source particularly in the late season when sometimes crab prices are higher.”

Bartling says they are testing the gear between Bodega Bay and downtown Monterey. 

NOAA telling KION, it will have a risk assessment on the crab fishery in two to four weeks.

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Briana Mathaw


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