The Mercury News reports that as rising ocean temperatures move their food supplies closer to shore, a staggering number of migrating whales have been forced into the path of California’s crab fishing fleet — and the confrontations have increased dramatically over the last five years.
State agencies have tried and failed to keep whales out of crab gear, prompting one nonprofit to take matters into its own hands. In October, the Center for Biological Diversity sued the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, claiming the department’s failure to prevent Dungeness crab gear from harassing, injuring and killing endangered whales and sea turtles violates the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The lawsuit calls for increased regulation of California’s Dungeness crab fishery, a prospect many crab fishermen fear will put them out of business.
Some fishermen see this lawsuit as another nail in the coffin for California’s Dungeness crab fishery. They worry increased regulation will limit their catch size, shrinking their already thin profit margins. Recent Dungeness crab seasons were disastrous for many California crabbers.