Commercial Crab Season Pushed Back to December 15th

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With humpback whales still lingering in coastal waters, the California state Department of Fish and Game has delayed the opening of commercial crab season along the Sonoma Coast to December 15th.

The move comes at the request of Bodega Bay fishermen, who had already decided to forgo the expected opening date of November 22nd to avoid entangling whales feeding just off the coast.   Just this week scores of humpback whales were spotted in aerial surveys feeding on anchovies near Pt. Reyes.

After Bodega Bay voted to sit out the opening, crabbers in San Francisco and Half Moon Bay joined them, prompting the state to push the season back by almost a month.

New state guidelines, put in place following a legal challenge by the Center for Biological Diversity, bring harsh penalties if even one whale becomes engangled in lines that crabbers use to set their pots.  Those rules, designed to protect migrating whales, could limit or even curtail the season if violations occur.

Although the season is delayed along the central California coast, suppliers say crab from Washington state will be available to shoppers in the North Bay who want it in time for the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

The delay applies to the crab fishery from Sonoma County to San Mateo County.   The opening of the crab fishery north of the Mendocino County line had already been delayed to December 16th due to low crab weights.





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