California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group

Reducing the Risk of Whale Entanglements in California: Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group

A Working Group has been convened by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, in partnership with California Ocean Protection Council and National Marine Fisheries Service, to address an increase in large whale entanglements in Dungeness crab fishing gear. Established in September 2015, the Working Group is comprised of commercial and recreational fishermen, environmental organization representatives, members of the disentanglement network, and state and federal agencies. The Working Group’s charge is to:

  • Collaboratively inform and guide the state of California (CDFW, OPC, Fish and Game Commission, and the Legislature) in addressing key information gaps and/or measures to reduce the risks of entanglements in Dungeness crab fishing gear;
  • Provide guidance and recommendations to the California Dungeness crab fishing industry, including the DCTF, about how to avoid/minimize whale entanglements and identify measures or experiments that can be developed or implemented by the fishing community to address the entanglement issue; and
  • Guide whale entanglement reduction efforts by establishing priorities for the Working Group, and help inform other entities seeking to address the issue of whale entanglements in California.

California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group member, Calder Deyerle, a commercial fishermen out of Moss Landing, demonstrates best practices for Dungeness crab fishing gear buoy set up with other members from the Working Group. Photo credit: Rachelle Fisher

California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group Fact Sheet

Working Group Charter – October 2020

2020-21 Best Practices Guide

Cover page

Updates and 2010-20 recommendations to advance the Risk Assessment and Mitigation Program

Working Group Members and Advisors – October 2020

Risk Assessment and Mitigation Program (RAMP)

The Working Group has developed a draft Risk Assessment and Mitigation Program (RAMP) to support the state in working collaboratively with experts (fishermen, researchers, NGOs, etc.) to identify and assess elevated levels of entanglement risk and determine the need for management options to reduce risk of entanglement.

For more information, please visit: the RAMP webpage.

For CDFW Director’s Determinations regarding the 2019-2020 commercial Dungeness crab fishing season, please visit CDFW’s Whale Safe Fisheries webpage.


Photo credit: Rachelle Fisher

Updates, Recommendations & Summaries

Working Group Meetings

Interested members of the public are invited to Working Group meetings as listeners only. There will not be opportunities for public comment. All participants will be asked to identify themselves. See below for additional details about upcoming meetings.

For RAMP Working Group Recommendation Memos, please visit the RAMP Risk Assessment webpage.

As a result of the Working Group’s July 15, 2020 meeting, the Working Group developed its 2019-2020 RAMP Reflections.

The Working Group has been meeting since September 2015. A complete archive of meeting summaries from in-person meetings and conference calls may be found here.

Working Group Products

Public Comments

Additional Resources

Related Resources


For more information about the Working Group’s efforts, including the RAMP and opportunities to provide feedback and share your expertise, contact the Working Group at

Ocean Protection Council

Facilitation Team: CDFW

OPC Grant Agreement Information Supporting the Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group

Project Overview

OPC approved a grant to The Nature Conservancy to support the Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group and implementation of its projects to reduce the risk of whale entanglement in Dungeness crab fishing gear. This may include, but will not be limited to, expansion of ongoing whale disentanglement trainings for commercial and recreational fishermen, survey flights that can efficiently record gear and fishing effort distribution, innovative uses of enhanced reporting technologies such as electronic monitoring programs to determine crab gear distribution and density, pilot projects to research a range of gear modifications, assessments of the impacts of voluntary measures taken by the fleet, and facilitation and coordination of Working Group meetings.

Timeline: February 2017 – July 2019

Project Amount: Up to $220,000

Grantee: The Nature Conservancy

Funding Source: Proposition 84

The Nature Conservancy has also contributed additional funds to support the priority tasks and facilitation of the Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group.

Relevant Resources


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