Invertebrates of Interest: Crabs

Dungeness and Rock Crab Regulation Updates

Risk Assessment and Mitigation Program (RAMP)

For more information related to the risk assessment process for the commercial Dungeness crab fishery, please visit CDFW's Whale Safe Fisheries page.

The Latest Information

Please access one of the following sources for up-to-date information concerning crab season dates and related information:

  • Visit the CDPH Domoic Acid web page for the latest crab test analyses and results (under Analytical Data - Crabs).
  • Call the CDFW Domoic Acid Fishery Closure Information Line at (831) 649-2883 for up-to-date information about the Dungeness crab and Rock crab seasons.
  • Call the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Shellfish Biotoxin Information line at: (510) 412-4643 or toll-free at (800) 553-4133 for updated crab consumption advisories, or visit the CDFW Finfish and Shellfish Health Advisories web page.
  • Sign up for the CDFW Marine Region News Service to receive the latest information about the crab seasons.
  • Check the Marine Region News Room for press releases with information about the crab seasons.
  • Call or drop by your local Marine Region CDFW office for the latest information before heading out on a crabbing trip.

Commercial Crab Fishery Information

Recreational Crab Fishery Information

Current Open and Closed Waters for Recreational Crab Fisheries due to Public Health Hazards

Latest Season RAMP Risk Assessment Information (for recreational use of crab traps)

Frequently Asked Questions for Recreational Crabbing in California

Why the crab trap regulation changes?

The crab trap regulation changes that became effective November 1, 2021, were adopted to address entanglement risk in the recreational fishery and minimize interaction potential with protected whales and sea turtles. Traps maybe restricted by the Director to minimize entanglement risk. To get the latest updates, sign up on our Whale Safe Fisheries page.

Does the crab trap restriction during the Dungeness crab season affect the use of other legal methods of take for these crab?

What color red does the marker buoy have to be?

The marker buoy can be any color red, there is not a specific red indicated in regulation. A bright red is preferred for the best visibility.

What if I cannot find a red marker buoy to purchase?

To be in compliance, you must use the specified color and size buoy. You should continue to work to source the correct buoy. They have generally been available at West Marine, Englund Marine and online. This can also be accomplished by painting a white buoy red as long as it fits the correct size dimensions.

Can the marker buoy be larger than 3 x 5 inches?

No, the marker buoy must be 3 x 5 inches.

What color does the main buoy have to be?

The main buoy can be any color or combination of colors.

Is the main buoy a minimum size, can it be larger?

Yes, the main buoy must be at least 5 inches in diameter and 11 inches in length. This is the minimum size, and it can be larger.

Can I connect two buoys together to make it a larger main buoy?

Yes, you may connect two buoys to make a larger main buoy, but note, if the buoys become separated you could be subject to enforcement action.

Can I use a trailer buoy?

Only if the marker buoy is used as the trailer buoy. The regulations only allow one main buoy and one marker buoy, no additional buoys may be added. The marker buoy must be attached no farther than 3 feet away from the main buoy.

Who needs a validation stamp?

Anyone who wishes to use a crab trap needs a crab trap validation stamp, even if under 16, on free fishing days, or when fishing from shore, a pier, or manmade structure. A validation is also required for passengers onboard commercial passenger fishing vessels (CPFVs) when using crab traps to harvest crab. It is not required for take using any other method. 

Do I need a validation if I am using a ring/hoop net, crab loop trap/snare, or taking by hand?

No, only those using crab traps defined in regulation require the crab trap validation, see Section 29.80 (c), Title 14, CCR.  

How much does the validation cost and how long is it good for?

The validation stamp currently costs $2.42 and is good for the year issued. It can be renewed annually with your sport license. Starting January 1, 2023, all licenses and validations, including the crab trap validation, will be good for 365 days from purchase date, see more information.

Is the small red marker buoy required on hoop nets?

No, the regulations for hoop net surface buoys have no specific buoy size or color requirements. There is no prohibition on having the red marker buoy attached to the hoop net as long as the surface buoy is marked as follows:

  1. From a CPFV, a DFG vesselID,
  2. From a licensed guide, their licensed guide ID, and
  3. For all other cases, a GO ID (for multiple operators, one GO ID is sufficient).

Do I write my license number or my GO ID number on the main buoy of the hoop net?

The GO ID number is required to be marked on hoop net surface buoys for cases that include operators on private vessels.

Do the emergency hoop net regulation changes also affect hoop nets from a pier?

Regulations exempt hoop nets deployed by person on shore or manmade structures connected to the shore from the surface buoy marking requirement. A pier is a manmade structure connected to shore so hoop nets would not be required to have a marked surface buoy. However, all hoop nets need to fit the design type definitions and when deployed, they need to be serviced at intervals not to exceed 2 hours.

News Releases, Memos, Notices and Blog Posts

News Releases

Memos and Notices

2022-2023 Season

Blog Posts

Regulations and Programs

Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery -Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

Advisory Groups

Reports and Information

top of maroon and olive colored crab
Dungeness Crab. CDFW photo by C. Juhasz
front of red and orange colored crab
Red Rock Crab. CDFW photo by C. Juhasz