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2022-2024 News Releases

CDFW Closes Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery and Restricts Recreational Crab Traps in the Central Management Area, Limits Commercial Fishing to inside 30-Fathoms in Northern Management Area to Protect Whales from Entanglement
  • March 28, 2024
California marine region map

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham has assessed entanglement risk under the Risk Assessment Mitigation Program (RAMP) and announced changes to both commercial and recreational Dungeness crab fisheries (PDF). Aerial and vessel surveys conducted in mid-March show humpback whale numbers are increasing as they return to forage off the coast of California, elevating entanglement risk. To minimize this risk for humpback whales, changes to the Dungeness crab fisheries, as detailed below, will be effective at 6:00 p.m. on April 8, 2024.

The commercial Dungeness crab fishery in Fishing Zones 3, 4, 5 and 6 (Sonoma/Mendocino county line to the U.S./Mexico border) will be closed, at which time the commercial take and possession of Dungeness crab from those waters is prohibited.

A 30-fathom depth constraint will be in effect for the commercial Dungeness crab fishery in Fishing Zones 1 and 2 (Sonoma/Mendocino county line to the Oregon border). Traps used by the commercial fishery in Fishing Zones 1 and 2 will be prohibited in waters seaward of the 30-fathom contour as defined in Title 50 of the Federal Codes of Regulations, Part 660, Section 660.71. As a reminder all vessels must also carry onboard an electronic monitoring system (PDF) capable of recording the vessel’s location while engaged in fishing activity.

A recreational crab trap prohibition is being implemented in Fishing Zones 3, 4 and 5 (Sonoma/Mendocino county line to Point Conception). CDFW reminds recreational crabbers that take of Dungeness crab by other methods (including hoop nets and crab snares) is allowed through the close of the season.

All open Fishing Zones remain under a Fleet Advisory for both the commercial and recreational Dungeness crab fisheries. In addition, CDFW reminds all fishery participants to implement best practices, as described in the Best Practices Guide (PDF), and to anticipate additional management measures in the coming weeks.

Under emergency regulations approved in early March, CDFW has also authorized commercial Dungeness crab vessels to retrieve an unlimited number of commercial Dungeness crab traps which are lost, damaged, abandoned or otherwise derelict in Fishing Zones 3 through 6 starting at 6:00 a.m. on April 15, 2024. CDFW requests that individuals operating under the emergency regulations regularly report retrieved gear to Any vessel operating or transiting in an open Fishing Zone may not possess more than six traps belonging to another vessel, pursuant to Title 14, California Code of Regulations, Section 132.2(a)(2)(A).

CDFW anticipates the next risk assessment will take place in mid-April 2024. For more information related to the risk assessment process, visit CDFW’s Whale Safe Fisheries page. For more information on the Dungeness crab fishery, visit


Media Contacts:
Ryan Bartling, CDFW Marine Region, (415) 238-2638
Steve Gonzalez, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714

Categories: Dungeness Crab, Fisheries, Marine

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