Sorry, But You Probably Won’t Be Eating Any Local Dungeness Crab for Thanksgiving

food, sorry, but you probably won’t be eating any local dungeness crab for thanksgiving

Sorry, But You Probably Won’t Be Eating Any Local Dungeness Crab for Thanksgiving

The humpback whale population in the San Francisco Bay this year is making Dungeness crab an all but an impossibility for Thanksgiving dinner. Though the commercial fishing season was set to begin November 15, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has delayed the season until at least December 1. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that while the sport crabbing season, aka the non-commercial season, will begin on November 5, no crab traps will be permitted to better protect whales.

The state department will reassess restrictions and the start date for the commercial fishing season on November 23. In the meantime, those starting on November 5 can only use hoop nets or snares. The Chronicle adds the increase in whale population seems to be related to a marine heat wave, the same that drove up the anchovy population like crazy this summer. Drone-based surveying in recent weeks showed up to as many as 128 whales in the Bay at any given time, and even greater populations further south near Monterey. “Large aggregations of humpback whales continue to forage in California coastal waters, and allowing the use of crab traps would increase the risk of an entanglement,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife director Charlton Bonham told the paper.

This year’s news may come as little surprise to those who look forward to Dungeness each year, or to the fisher folk themselves. A similar dynamic played out last year when, just like this year, the only option was to catch it yourself or go without. No word yet on the one-year pilot program to buy live crab off the boat in Fisherman’s Wharf just yet.

As the season proceeds, Eater will update this article to reflect current requirements and restrictions.

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