Legislature updates Dungeness crab fishery provisions

SACRAMENTO — A proposal to delete several obsolete provisions of the Dungeness crab fishery, update various definitions and funding for task force support, among other things, was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, Sept. 21.

Senate Bill 1310 (SB 1310) was mostly a cleanup proposal, recommending administrative changes to the management of the Dungeness crab fishery and implementing directions by the Dungeness Crab Task Force. State Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, introduced the bill earlier this year.

“Amendments [to this proposal] remove provisions related to the Dungeness crab gear retrieval program, clarify the terms of the annual $150,000 appropriation to support the task force, and make technical and clarifying changes,” a State Senate analysis of SB 1310 stated.

Vessel permits would be issued via renewal or transfer of an existing permit, under the new law; new and original vessel permits will no longer be issued.

The new law also updates how a vessel’s length overall, or LOA, is determined.

A budget appropriation of $150,000 will also be available to support the Dungeness Crab Task Force.

The composition of the task force has also been updated under the new law. Those sitting on the Dungeness Crab Task Force would represented the University of California Sea Grant, sportfishing interests and commercial fishing interests. Alternates would also be appointed to the task force.

The sportfishing representatives would not have voting privileges.

The opening of waters for Dungeness crab season could be delayed if state officials determine there is a public health risk.

Implementing the elements of SB 1310 would cost an estimated $1.1 million, annually.

SB 1310 was approved in the Assembly by an 80-0 vote on Aug. 30; the State Senate approved McGuire’s proposal by a 39-0 vote on Aug. 31.

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