Commercial Dungeness crab season delayed to December

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It's official, the commercial Dungeness crab season won't start until Dec. 1 this year, which means there won’t be any local crab on the table for Thanksgiving unless you catch it yourself.

The season is being postponed by two weeks to help protect sea turtles and whales from getting tangled up in fishing gear.

Dozens of humpback whales have been spotted in the waters off San Francisco and Monterey Bay in recent weeks. Scientists believe as climate change shifts ocean temperatures, whales are being pushed closer to shore.

State wildlife officials called for the delay, which impacts fishing zones from Mendocino to the Mexican border.

Last year commercial crabbers voluntarily ended the season early over wildlife concerns, but this year they are pushing back.

“We’ve done a lot of stuff to mitigate the interaction between our gear and whales over the last six, seven years and it’s really made a difference. And we really feel like these regulations are unnecessary,” said Ben Platt, president of the California Coast Crab Association.

He says most crabbers can survive the delay as long as they still get a full season, but there are concerns.

“That these regulations could actually cause our season to be cut off on the front end and the back end, in the spring and early summer,” said Platt. “So there is a possibility that these regulations are seriously shortening the season.”

The recreational crab fishing season will open on Saturday as planned.