The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is developing regulations to implement a retrieval program for lost or abandoned commercial Dungeness crab gear. A public hearing will be held at 10 a.m. on June 25, 2019 at the CDFW Monterey Office at 20 Lower Ragsdale Drive, Monterey, Calif.
At the initial public hearing in Santa Rosa on April 2, CDFW proposed modifications to the program. A supplemental public comment period began May 10 and will run through June 24, 2019.
Under existing law (Fish and Game Code Section 8276(d)), all commercial Dungeness crab traps must be removed from the water by 11:59 p.m. on the last day of the commercial Dungeness crab season. Under the proposed program, qualified entities (Retrieval Permittees) and their designated agents can retrieve lost or abandoned commercial Dungeness crab gear remaining in the water after the close of the season. Retrieval Permittees must contact the Dungeness crab vessel permitholder and offer to return the gear in exchange for reasonable compensation. If reasonable compensation is not provided, CDFW will reimburse the Retrieval Permittee and levy fees against the vessel permitholder. The program is expected to reduce the amount of lost or abandoned commercial trap gear in ocean waters, which pose entanglement risk to marine life and navigational hazards to other boaters.
Interested individuals are encouraged to review the proposed regulations (www.wildlife.ca.gov/Notices/Regulations/Gear-Retrieval-Program) and to submit written comments prior to the close of the supplemental public comment period (5 p.m. on June 24) or give oral comments at the public hearing on June 25, 2019.