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Whale migration delays Dungeness crab season

Dungeness Crab California
Posted at 6:41 PM, Nov 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-09 22:38:24-05

Right as Dungeness crab season is starting, pods of whales are migrating along the West Coast.

That's causing issues for fishermen, as the Department of Fish and Wildlife has delayed the start of the season to allow the whales to pass.

What wildlife officials are concerned about is the entanglement of whales in Dungeness crab fishing equipment.

Recreational Dungeness crab season began on November 6. The commercial season is slated to start on November 15.

As of now, areas south of Lopez Point will open on time but more northerly areas between the Sonoma/Mendocino county line and Monterey County will be paused until the Department of Fish and Wildlife says it's safe to do so.

"We've broken the state into seven zones and we look for whales and sea turtles to see if they're at a certain threshold. If they are, the director can pause the season," explained Ryan Bartling, Senior Scientist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

In order to do so, they fly above the water and conduct a census of the species.

"The number of whales is starting to decline which means migration is well underway," Bartling said.

That could be good news for fisheries. The sooner they migrate, the sooner the season starts.

Since northern fishing areas will be delayed, the effects on local supply chains are still unknown.