California’s Dungeness crab fishery is one of the state’s largest and most important commercial fisheries and is an economic foundation for many of California’s ports. A bill recently passed by the California Legislature, SB 369 (Evans), that will cap the number of traps that individual fishermen can use. This will not only protect crab populations for generations to come, but will protect the economic viability of the fishery and the coastal communities that rely on it.
The problem is that the number of crab traps being used in the fishery escalates each season as fishermen race to catch crab. This “arms race” creates unnecessary ecological impacts and threatens the long-term economic health of the fishery. This frenzied derby effect leads to a glut of crab on the market at the beginning of the season and correspondingly depresses the value of crab. It also leads to significant safety risks as the intense pressure to compete during the initial weeks of the season can lead fishermen to go out in dangerous winter weather. This resulted in broad recognition among fishermen that trap limits are needed, but until now, agreement on what those limits should be could not be reached. Read More