Risk Assessment and Mitigation Program (RAMP)

Since September 2015, the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group (Working Group) has been taking steps to actively identify and be responsive to elevated risks of whale entanglements in California Dungeness crab fishing gear. This unique coalition of diverse stakeholders—which includes commercial and recreational fishermen, environmental organization representatives, members of the whale entanglement response network and state and federal agencies—is committed to developing solutions that support thriving whale populations along the West Coast and a thriving and profitable Dungeness crab fishery. For a Fact Sheet about the Working Group and other background information, visit the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group webpage.

Risk Assessment and Mitigation Program (RAMP)

A Risk Assessment and Mitigation Program (RAMP) has been developed by the Working Group to assess circumstances where entanglement risk may be elevated and, as needed, identify a possible management measures for the CDFW’s Director’s consideration (see Senate Bill 1309 here.) The program is designed to be flexible and responsive to considering new information, technologies, and approaches to reducing the risk of entanglements.

Jonathan Gross

2018-2019 RAMP

Building on lessons learned during the 2017-18 RAMP Pilot (here and here), the Working Group has fine-tuned the RAMP for the 2018-19 fishing season. The Working Group is scheduled to convene four times to conduct a pre, mid, late, and postseason risk assessment. A subgroup of Working Group (Evaluation Team) may also be convened by the agencies in response to elevated entanglement risk. All RAMP related discussions, risk evaluations, and possible management recommendations developed by the Evaluation Team will be posted on this webpage and circulated via the Working Group’s email distribution list. If you are interested in receiving these updates via email, please contact info@cawhalegroup.com. The Working Group welcomes your feedback and insights on the RAMP – visit http://www.opc.ca.gov/whale-entanglement-working-group or contact the Working Group at info@cawhalegroup.com

2018-19 RAMP Preseason Risk Assessment

On October 30 and November 6, 2018, the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group (Working Group) convened to discuss the relative risk of whale entanglements in anticipation of the 2018-19 California Dungeness crab fishing season. This assessment was conducted as part of the 2018-19 Risk Assessment and Mitigation Program (RAMP), which is designed to identify and be responsive to elevated entanglement risk in the California Dungeness crab fishery. For more information about the RAMP and this effort, visit www.opc.ca.gov/whale-entanglement-working-group.

The Working Group reviewed and discussed four priority factors (entanglements, forage/ocean conditions, whale concentrations, and fishing dynamics) for both humpback whales and blue whales and a preseason risk level was identified for each:


  • Whale concentrations: Moderate
  • Entanglements: Moderate
  • Forage/ocean conditions: Moderate
  • Season delay: Low


  • Whale concentrations: Low
  • Entanglements: Low
  • Forage/ocean conditions: Low
  • Season delay: Low

More information and detail about the scoring of each factor is available (here).

To minimize the potential for whale entanglements in the 2018-19 Dungeness crab fishing season, the commercial fleet and recreational fishing community are requested to consult and follow the recommendations outlined in the 2018-19 Best Practices Guide, with specific attention to the setup of surface gear. Fishermen should be on alert and avoid fishing in areas where there are groups of feeding whales and/or schools of anchovy, and/or swarms of krill and proceed with caution in the vicinity of submarine canyons.

Commercial and recreational California Dungeness crab fishermen are requested to provide details on their observations of anchovy—How far offshore (lat/long)? What is the bottom depth? What is the presence of birds/marine mammals?—to help inform the Working Group’s efforts. Text 310-738-2665 or email info@cawhalegroup.com​.

Based on the preseason assessment of ‘moderate risk’ for the entanglements, forage/ocean conditions, and whales concentrations factors for humpback whales, the agencies will continue to closely track each factor over the coming days and weeks. The Working Group recognizes that November is a transitional time for whale migration patterns, forage/ocean conditions, and fishing dynamics and next steps for information gathering have been identified for each factor to help inform the RAMP.  The Working Group will continue to work with agencies and researchers to evaluate and be responsive to the relative risk of entanglements. Unless there are additional indications of elevated risk identified in the near-term, the group is scheduled to reconvene in February to conduct a mid-season risk assessment.

RAMP Resources:

2018-2019 RAMP Overview

Draft RAMP Guiding Principles

Draft 2018-2019 RAMP Assumptions

2017-18 RAMP Reflections and Lessons Learned

PDFs of Status Updates & Recommendations:


Contact the Working Group at info@cawhalegroup.com

Ocean Protection Council

Facilitation Team: Strategic Earth Consulting