The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) just completed the most recent marine life entanglement risk assessment under the Risk Assessment Mitigation Program (RAMP). Recent survey data indicate most Humpback and Blue whales remain outside of the California fishing grounds, however a few Humpback whales have begun to return to Monterey Bay and the Gulf of the Farallones. As a result, the Director of CDFW has issued a statewide Fleet Advisory for the commercial Dungeness crab fishery for all Fishing Zones (Oregon state line to Mexico).
Under a Fleet Advisory, CDFW encourages the fleet to implement fishing best practices (e.g. minimizing knots, line scope) and to immediately remove all gear from ocean waters when an operator no longer intends to fish. Vessels fishing in Zones 3 and 4 (Gulf of the Farallones and Monterey Bay) should pay particular attention to the location of set gear and foraging whales and minimize entanglement risk by adhering to the Best Practices Guide.
RAMP is designed to strike a balance between the needs of the commercial Dungeness crab fleet and protection of marine life off the coast of California. Since the program was first piloted, CDFW has partnered with researchers, federal agencies and the fishing industry to collect and analyze data for consideration by the Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group and the Director of CDFW. Risk assessments are conducted at least monthly over the course of the season using the best available science. Based on that process, CDFW may take additional management actions in response to future risk assessments. The next risk assessment is expected to occur on or around April 1. For more information related to the risk assessment process or this advisory, please visit CDFW’s Whale Safe Fisheries page or for more information on Dungeness crab, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab.