Yesterday, California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Chuck Bonham ordered the closure of the commercial Dungeness crab fishery at noon. Tuesday, June 1st. This move is directed so as not to confuse the endangered humpback whales that are now migrating along the California coastline. The season usually ends June 30 in Central California as well as July 15th in Northern California.
The closure order was based on data from the new state Risk assessment and mitigation program, which was developed in accordance with a legal agreement with Center for Biological Diversity. Center formerly sued the department in 2017 Nov. due to the increasing entanglement of whales.
The agency’s assessment says that on 12 May, 60 humpback whales were seen in Monterey Bay in Central California. In the next two days 45 humpback whales reportedly witnessed swimming in Northern California. This number is expected to increase in the coming weeks as whales continue to migrate in search of food off the coast of California. The department’s report also indicated that thousands upon thousands of crab traps are still in the water, putting whales at risk of entanglement.
The center urged Bonham to close the fishery before June 1st, urging him to only allow channelless or “pop-up” fishing gear. This innovative gear uses lifting bags or remote launch ropes and buoys to lift the crab trap to the surface, eliminating ropes passing through the water for days or weeks.
“It’s great to see that California is finally acting to avoid whale entanglement. But we are disappointed that government officials have been so slow to take action and not deliver on their promise of cable-free equipment, ”said Kristen Monsell, Legal Director of the Center for Oceans. statement. “Whales will always be threatened by fishing with thousands of heavy vertical ropes in the water throughout the season. We insist on a move to cable-free equipment, which the Fisheries and Wildlife Agency should accept more than it is. ”
Unfortunately, entanglements in thick ropes connected to heavy commercial Dungeness crab traps injure and kill whales as well as sea turtles. Ropes cut into the flesh of animals, weakening their strength and leading to drowning. Every entanglement of a humpback whale, blue whale, or leatherback sea turtle violates federal regulations. Endangered Species Act.
This year the Center acted as one of the sponsors Whale Entanglement Prevention Act (AB 534), which would require converting traps in California to ropeless guns by the end 2025 g. The bill was subsequently withdrawn by its sponsor, former Assemblyman Rob Bonta, when he was appointed the state’s new attorney general. The center, however, continues to advocate for the transition to cable-free equipment.
You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and glass. #GoVeg
The message is breaking! California will close its crab fishing season earlier to avoid entanglement of whales, first appeared in World Animal News.