Crab fishing gear can be deadly. In increasing numbers, whales and sea turtles are being ensnared and injured in crab lines and drowning. The National Marine Fisheries Service has recorded deaths involving crabbing gear of creatures protected under the Endangered Species Act, including humpback whales, gray whales, and leatherback sea turtles.
Through recent advocacy, the Center for Biological Diversity, along with Baykeeper and other organizations, is asking the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to facilitate the adoption of ropeless crab traps. The agency should encourage the use of safer gear for the entire Dungeness crab fishing season, and help mainstream whale-friendly gear industry-wide. This will simplify the agency’s plan by reducing the need for fishermen to manage stores of both "alternative" and conventional crabbing gear.
It’s possible to have a healthy, robust crabbing industry without accidentally killing sea creatures—and we’re hopeful that this will be a reality soon.
Photo of a humpback whale in San Francisco Bay by Ken-ichi Ueda, Flickr/CC