Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The commercial harvest of Dungeness crab off the North Coast and Central California has once again been delayed due to large groups of federally protected humpback whales still foraging in the fishing grounds.
They’re fewer in number than in late October, when state Fish and Wildlife Director Chuck Bonham first hit pause on the season’s start. But the whales still remain at concentrations high enough to raise the risk of ensnaring them in fishing gear if the fleet were to deploy the thousands of traps used each season.
The whales also exceed thresholds established three years ago to more closely manage the commercial fishery in a way that reduces entanglement of marine mammals protected under the Endangered Species Act — notably blue and humpback whales and leatherback sea turtles.