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Whales In Prime Crabbing Area Could Delay California's Commercial Crab Season

BODEGA BAY (KPIX 5) -- California's commercial crab season may be delayed until December due to a large number of whales that could be entangled in the prime crabbing area of Bodega Bay.

It all started with a plane ride over the Pacific Ocean earlier this week. Crab boat skipper Dick Ogg was with people from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on that plane.

"We saw a fairly high concentration of whales along the Point Reyes area and from there down to the Double Point area," Ogg said.

The large number of whales in the prime crabbing area surprised the team, raising concerns that whales could become entangled in the crab pot lines. The state agrees and is considering a further delay until Dec. 15th.

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Dozens of skippers attended a meeting Wednesday in Bodega. For now, they have a gentleman's agreement for everyone to stay in port to allow time for the whales to move down the coast, but there's a concern that some boats may not honor the agreement. The Bodega Fisherman's Marketing Association asked Fish and Wildlife to make it official.

Skipper and Spud Point Crab Company owner Tony Anello attended. "We don't want to entangle the whales. We want to be able to go out and do our normal situation of making a living," Anello said.

The second issue keeping the fleet in port is the price of crab, which is currently $2.75 a pound, 75 cents less than last year's final price.

"We have to come out ahead and not just break even. So, the cost of crab gear, cost of fuel, the cost of food, cost of slip rents, and cost of insurance has all gone up!" Anello explains.

Skipper Ogg agrees. "The price at this point is lower than what we would have started at seven or eight years ago."

"It's a double edged sword, the whales and the price. At this point in time, we just want to go fishing," Anello said.


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