Two humpback whales have become entangled in Dungeness crab fishing gear near the Monterey Peninsula over the past two weeks, shutting down commercial Dungeness crab fishing south of the Sonoma/Mendocino border s extending to the US-Mexico border.
“It’s pretty devastating because the best crab here is usually in the spring,” said Morro Bay commercial fisherman Bill Blue.
Animal rights groups say crabbing tackle easily wraps around whales and sea turtles.
“Especially in the spring, when whales and sea turtles migrate to California to feed off the coast, they are at risk of becoming entangled,” said Catherine Kilduff, senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity.
Bill Blue has worked in Morro Bay as a commercial fisherman since 1975 and says it’s harder than ever to make a living as a fisherman in California. This suspension doesn’t help, especially during their most profitable season.
“That could be up to 35-40% of my annual income for the year,” Blue said.
The suspension is hurting many Central Coast families who depend on fishing for a living.
“It affects, I would say 15 to 18 local families,” Blue said.
Blue says he is also concerned about the whales and their welfare, but he feels this suspension is unfair and politically motivated.
“It’s a pretty unfair thing. It’s all political. It has nothing to do with rescuing whales. The shipping industry kills a lot of whales. They have a lot of money. They’re not going to sue them. “, Blue said. .
The suspension is skyrocketing the price of Dungeness crab on the Central Coast.
“Our best fishing is usually right now. So unfortunately cutting a few months out of the fishing season means there’s no access to local crabs, which means local boats, which means a price cheaper,” said Giovanni DeGarimore, owner of Giovanni’s Fish Market.
Dungeness crab is one of the top-selling items at Giovanni’s Fish Market, even with prices reaching $20 a pound, customers still line up.
“People who love crab, love crab. I don’t think any price would stop them,” DeGarimore said.