Sonoma Coast Crab Season to open Jan. 18
Commercial fisherman on the Sonoma Coast allowed to use only 50% of their crabbing gear
The Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) gave the go-ahead yesterday to begin crab season off the Sonoma Coast next week.
Sonoma County Fisherman will be allowed to set their pots starting January 15, and the first crabs should hit the market a few days later on the 18th or 19th, according to Bodega Bay fisherman Dick Ogg.
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Ogg serves as a member of the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group and is a member of the Bodega Bay Fishermen’s Marketing Association—and a dozen other commissions and committees relating to fishing, he said.
The opening of crab season has been delayed since November over fears of whale entanglement in crab fisherman’s equipment.
Those same worries led the DFW to consider a 70% reduction in the number of crab pots and lines that fisherman dropped in the water off the Sonoma Coast, a reduction that Ogg said could have fatally crippled the commercial fishing industry in Bodega Bay.
“We as fishermen cannot financially afford that kind of reduction,” Ogg said. “Ask yourself. If tomorrow somebody said to you ‘Guess what? You're not going to get 70% of your pay. You know what would happen— it would be devastating.”
In the end, the DFW went with a 50% reduction in equipment.
“We worked really hard just to make them understand that we couldn't function with 30% of the equipment,” Ogg said. “So, essentially, we're going to be able to fish with 50% of our gear.”
Ogg called the compromise “good news for the environment,” but worried about the effect that even a 50% reduction would have on local fishermen.
“It's a reduction of 50% of our income, essentially, with the impact of the shortened season and the lesser amount of equipment that we can put in the water. It does impact our economic and financial benefit, but in terms of protection for the animals, it reduces that potential for interaction to occur.”
Ogg said that crab season has become even more important to local fishermen since salmon season was cancelled.
“I mean, we don't have a salmon season coming,” he said. “I think the likelihood of having a salmon season this year is like 100 to 1. It's just not going to happen right now. We may have it the following year, but we may not, and so we need to make sure that we're economically viable.”
After all the negotiating, Ogg is eager to get out of the conference room and out on the water.
“This has been one heck of a time, but we’re done. We're going fishing, and that's what we're supposed to do is go fishing,” he said.
Sebastopol Area Crab Feeds
Sebastopol Rotary Club Annual Crab Feed
Saturday, Feb. 10, 4:30-9:30 pm at the Holy Ghost Hall, 7960 Mill Station Road, Sebastopol. Crab, clam chowder, salad, dessert and wine, with live music. Proceeds support our teachers. Two seatings: 5 pm and 7 pm.
Sebastopol Masons All-You-Can-Eat Annual Crab Feed
Saturday, Feb 17, 5-9 pm at the Masonic Hall, 373 N. Main St., Sebastopol. All you can eat crab, home-made pasta, salad and garlic bread. Refreshments and desserts available for purchase. Family style seating so bring your whole family. Discounts for children, and kids under 6 years old are free. Two separate sittings: 5 pm and 7 pm.
Forestville Chamber of Commerce Crab Feed
Saturday, Jan. 27, 5 pm at the Holy Ghost Hall, 7960 Mill Station Road, Sebastopol. All you can eat crab, salad and bread, raffles and auctions.
Bodega Bay Grange Annual Cioppino Event
Sunday, Feb. 18, 12-5:30 pm at the Bodega Bay Grange, 1370 Bodega Ave., Bodega Bay. All-you-can-eat fresh Dungeness crab in a cioppino sauce, with garlic bread, salad and dessert. Seatings at noon, 1:30 pm, 3 pm, and 4:30 pm.
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