There has been quite a bit of activity related to legislation in California addressing Dungeness crab. As a result there has also been many rumors and misunderstandings circulating as well.
This past winter, the group Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), was approached by a few crab fishermen from the Halfmoon Bay and San Francisco area (District 10). They wanted to know whether EDF could assist in bring crab fishermen throughout California together to talk about possible changes to the current crab regulations. This group of crab fishermen were interested in establishing a crab pot limit similar to that which occurs in Washington and Oregon.
A meeting was held with several crabbers from California District 10, along with Tommy Ancona and Pete Leipzig, from the FMA. Additionally, several FMA members from Crescent City participated in the meeting over a telephone conference line. This meeting was held at the EDF office in San Francisco. After a full days discussion about what the District 10 fishermen wanted to accomplish, a proposal from the District 10 fishermen was put forward that would have established a uniform start date of December 1st for all of California. Draft legislation was prepared for introduction.
The news of this proposal raised concerns by other District 10 fishermen, as well as fishermen from northern ports that also fish during the early opening that has occurred in District 10. A second meeting was arranged and held in Ukiah. This meeting was attended by fishermen form District 10, including Zeke Grader for PCFFA, Tommy Ancona, Pete Leipzig, and FMA members from Crescent City, once again on a telephone conference line. At this meeting the District 10 fishermen now expressed their opposition to a uniform starting date and wish to establish a pot limit instead. What was agreed at that meeting was that legislation would go forward to establish a Dungeness crab Advisory Committee that would be tasked to develop proposed regulations as well as develop positions that relate to other ocean activities that could impact the crab fishery, such as wind and wave energy projects. Additionally, Zeke Grader told the group that he was working on language for another piece of legislation that would establish pot limits in District 10. The proposal of Graders was not related to any of the work or discussions of the EDF hosted meetings.
Since that meeting there have been two additional meetings also held in Ukiah. (Ukiah was selected because it was roughly halfway between Crescent City and the Halfmoon Bay/Monterey Bay area.) At both of these meetings the discussion has focused upon the natural and structure of the proposed D. crab Advisory Committee.
State Senator Wiggins has agreed to amend her place holder bill SB 1690 with different place holder language and has express her support for the industry to work together to develop this committee and for the ad hoc steering committee to try to reach agreement on possible changes to the crab regulations. Senator Wiggins staff has made it clear that only things agreed to by the ad hoc committee will be placed into the Wiggins bill.
Below are links to meeting summaries:
First meeting in San Francisco, January 14, 2008
Organizational meeting in Ukiah, February 13. 2008
The links below are to some of the data describing the California Dungeness Crab fishery.
Llisting of vessels removed during the Groundfish Buy-back program and indicating which former trawl vessel owners have returned to fishing crab.
Meeting Report - Sacramento meeting July 29, 2008 with Fish and Game
Proposed amended vesion of SB 1690 - this is the result of discussions between Fish & Game of Senator Wiggins.
Final version passed Assembly and Senate - sent to the Governor's desk for signature