By: Susan Chambers

Commercial Dungeness Crab Season Will Finally Open on California’s North Coast on May 12

California Fish and Game Commission, working with the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and the California Department of Public Health on Monday recommended opening the areas but that consumers should not eat the crab viscera.

The recreational Dungeness crab fishery is open north of 41° 17.6’ N latitude at the southern boundary line of Reading Rock State Marine Conservation Area (near Redwood Creek), Humboldt County, to the California/Oregon border. The commercial fishery will open in the same area at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, May 12.

Both fisheries remain closed between 40° 46.15′ N latitude (a line extending due west from the west end of the north jetty at the entrance of Humboldt Bay) and 41° 17.6’ N latitude.

The presoak period for commercial fishermen to set their gear will begin at 8:01 a.m. Monday, May 9. Fair start rules will apply, so crabbers who have fished in other areas or other states must wait 30 days to fish in the recently opened areas.

Fishermen have reported increasing numbers of soft or molting crab in areas of the West Coast, which is typical for this time of year, so it’s unclear just how much legal crab may be landed from those areas this late in the season.

It’s also unknown how the openings will affect the status of California’s request to the U.S. Department of Commerce to declare the fishery a failure. The department has not announced a decision yet. Consequently, a bill in Congress to appropriate funds for disaster relief also has not progressed.

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