By Nick Rahaim.
First came whales, then came a price most West Coast Dungeness crabbers deemed too low to fish for, but after nearly two months of having their gear at the ready, San Francisco area Dungie fishermen finally set their pots Monday, Jan. 11, at 8 a.m. They will begin hauling Wednesday at the same time, under an “organized start” agreed to by fleets out of Half Moon Bay, San Francisco and Bodega Bay to prevent a mad dash, shotgun start once a price had been agreed to.
“Holy Christ has this season been a mess,” said Dick Ogg, who runs the F/V Karen Jeanne out of Bodega Bay. “But the fleet has really come together. If this works, which it looks like it will, it will be pretty amazing and will have a lasting imprint on the fleet.”
The California Dungeness crab season was originally slated to start on Nov. 15 but was delayed twice because of a high number of humpback whales off the coast. Under new regulations to mitigate entanglements of migrating whales in crab gear, the state established its Risk Assessment and Mitigation Program. That means a delayed start or a closure can be triggered when more than 20 migrating whales are found to be in a given district. Under the new rules, an entanglement could potentially shut down the fishery.
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