A photo of fresh Dungeness crab in plastic buckets.
Fresh Dungeness crab season has been delayed again, this time until Dec. 23.

Monterey Bay commercial crab season delayed for third time this year

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Friday evening that the commercial crab season for the Monterey Bay has been delayed for a third time.

The new opening date will be Dec. 23, leaving fishermen just days to bring in crab to sell for Christmas — often their most lucrative time of year.

In a press release, the department said:

“Proving that the Risk Assessment Mitigation Program is successfully striking a balance between the needs of the commercial Dungeness crab fleet and protection of marine life, [the department] will open the commercial season statewide on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020, allowing the fleet a chance to get Dungeness crab on California tables before the holiday season ends.”

The delays are largely due to controversial new regulations meant to prevent whale entanglements.

The department said that “available data indicates some whales remain in the fishing grounds but risk is declining and CDFW supports a balanced approach to managing risk and providing opportunity for the commercial fishery that is grounded in expert science.”