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:

  • 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;
  • 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; 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

California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group Charter

California Dungeness Crab Fishing Best Practices Guide

August 2018, Key Highlights & Next Steps


Draft Risk Assessment and Mitigation Program (RAMP): Voluntary Pilot, 2017-2018 California Dungeness Crab Fishing Season

Since September 2015, the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group has been working to better understand the issue of entanglements and to identify methods to mitigate entanglement risk. In May 2017, the group identified the need for a process that could help identify circumstances that can elevate risk and develop pathways to addressing these situations. The Working Group has considered an approach that is rooted in best fishing practices and is flexible to be responsive to elevated entanglement risk. Involving a range of experts — fishermen, agencies, researchers, and others — who will work collaboratively to evaluate risk, identify information needs, and assess the need for voluntary and/or (longer-term) mandatory management options that could be recommended to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is key to the program’s success.

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 draft RAMP and the voluntary pilot of the RAMP during the 2017-2018 California Dungeness crab fishing season webpage.

Photo credit: Rachelle Fisher

Updates & Recommendations

Working Group Meeting Summaries  

Working Group Products

Additional Resources


For more information about the Working Group’s efforts and the 2017-18 RAMP pilot, including opportunities to provide feedback and share your expertise, contact the Working Group at

Ocean Protection Council

Facilitation Team: Strategic Earth Consulting


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