Northern California Crab Season Opens Amid Scrutiny Over Whale Entanglements

The commercial Dungeness crab fishery will open north of Sonoma County on Monday after several delays needed to allow the crustaceans to mature before the harvest begins.

The northern season, which usually starts Dec. 1, is opening two months after commercial crews started catching crab off the Sonoma Coast and areas south to Morro Bay — a region that last season accounted for about half of the more than $68 million earned by the state’s crabbing fleet. The remainder came from the district between Point Arena and the Oregon border.

The North Coast’s iconic Dungeness crab harvest is the state’s second-most valuable ocean fishery but has been disrupted in recent years by naturally occurring biotoxin outbreaks. The fishery has also seen an escalating number of whale entanglements in crab gear, encounters that often prove deadly for the marine mammals.

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