Crab Season Delayed Until After Christmas

crab pots by Oliver Cory

[Stock photo by Oliver Cory]

Press release from the Department of Fish and Wildlife:

The director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has announced an additional 15-day delay for the upcoming commercial Dungeness crab season, based on the results of another round of pre-season quality testing conducted on Dec. 5. The tests continued to show that Dungeness crab are not yet ready for harvesting.

The delay affects Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 (Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties). The season in these districts is now scheduled to open on 12:01 a.m. Dec. 31, 2017, to be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Dec. 28, 2017.

Crab quality tests are conducted regularly to ensure that crab are filled out enough prior to harvesting. Tests follow guidelines established by the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee, which is overseen by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission.

Additional testing will be scheduled to occur by Dec. 22. If quality remains low, an additional delay until Jan. 15, 2018 will be issued by the director. This date is the latest the season can be delayed due to quality testing.

No vessel may take or land crab within Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 during the closure period.  In addition, any vessel that lands crab from ocean waters outside of Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 is prohibited from participating in the crab fishery in Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9, or any other delayed opening areas in Oregon or Washington, for 30 days following the opening of those areas as outline in California’s Fair Start Provision (Fish and Game Code, section 8279.1).

The director’s memo can be found here.

The updated Frequently Asked Questions for the current 2017-18 season addresses questions regarding the Fair Start provision.

For more information on health advisories related to fisheries, please visit

For more information about Dungeness crab fisheries in California, please visit



  • Darn. No Christmas crab again.

    What is the reasoning behind this government requirement to be filled out?

    • It most likely is aimed to prevent over harvest since right now it takes twice as many crab to equal the same amount of crab meat as when they are full. Is anyone else nervous about sport crab fishing over the next couple of years? No salmon season, no abalone season, more and more restrictions on rock fish and halibut, no razor clams, crab are next! I hope I’m wrong but it seems like the state of California would like to see the end of recreational and sport harvest of resources, which is counterproductive to the resources since sportsmen and those who utilize the resource are the biggest contributors to the conservation of fish and game.

  • I believe 25% of the body weight needs to be meat. With the volume on the coast this year they are slow to fill out as they are competing for the same food source. Sport fisherman are harvesting, but these crab are not marketable. Unhappy consumers buying hollow crab does not behoove to commercial fishing fleet.


    I totally agree!! It seems that the state would like to curtail everything. I am waiting for the day that there are more government officials employed to protect a specific resource than the resource they are protecting! I have been employed in the private sector here for the last 25+ years and every year there are less private sector jobs and more gov jobs. What happened?

  • The crab we have been harvesting has been stuffed with meat. One difference in commercial and sport, is the sport guys can throw back crab with soft shell or feel light. The commercial guys don’t have time to sort crab like that. It has been the understanding of the fleet that they won’t fish until Jan 16th.

    • unbridled phillistine

      I have been crab fishing my whole life, And yes we check the crab to make sure they are full of meat. A squeez to the back leg will tell you. Fishermen do not want to harvest empty crab, A huge waste. Just like we make sure they are not female, We measure, sex, feel the firmness of the shell. Its in our best interest not to waste the resource and harvesting empty crab is a waste, We do think of the future.

    • there is more to eat in the bay which is why there are so many in the bay this year. the ones outside are not ready and some are mushy. the big ones are empty. our ocean is having a serious problem right now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *