SALEM, Ore.—The Fish & Wildlife Commission adopted measures to reduce the risk of whale entanglement in commercial Dungeness crab gear, while balancing economic impacts to this important fishery during their meeting today(Friday, September 11th).
The new rules will be effective during the coming crab season, which begins Dec. 1, 2020. Starting May 1 each season, the new rules reduce crab pot limits by 20 percent, and restrict gear to inside 40 fathoms (the commission opted to adjust from 30 fathoms), to avoid deeper waters where humpback whales are more abundant. A season tag requirement to identify gear used after May 1 and a three-year sunset to evaluate these measures were also adopted. The Commission also put in place other measures to reduce overlap that are detailed in the Commission agenda item summary. For biotoxin management measures in the crab fishery, the Commission aligned buffer area management and effective date of management measures to be consistent with the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s crab biotoxin rules.