Whales off Point Reyes send message to delay crab season

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While recreationally crab and rock fishing off the Point Reyes beach this past Monday the 18th of November I was witness to some amazing whale activity I’d never before seen.

At least three whales (Humpback?) were repeatedly and rapidly slapping the surface of the sea with their tales.

Maybe they could sense that soon, many thousands of heavy traps with ropes and buoys were about to be dropped into the sea where they feed.

Maybe they were letting us recreational crab fishermen know that human activity takes a huge toll on whales and other marine life.

Whether it be from the millions of pounds of plastic humans dump into the sea each year, or, the deep cuts into their flesh when they and their relatives get tangled up in the ropes used to tether traps to buoys.

I tend to think they were sending a message to us. Are we listening?

Thankfully the CDFW and commercial crabbers got the message and pushed back the day when up to 170,000 traps with thousands of miles of plastic rope and hundreds of thousands of buoys are repeatedly dropped in the sea in search of dungeness crab.

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Click on an image to see a larger version.
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Whales slap the surface of the sea off Point Reyes on 18 November, 2019. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Whales slap the surface of the sea off Point Reyes on 18 November, 2019. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Whales slap the surface of the sea off Point Reyes on 18 November, 2019. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Whales slap the surface of the sea off Point Reyes on 18 November, 2019. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Whales slap the surface of the sea off Point Reyes on 18 November, 2019. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Whales slap the surface of the sea off Point Reyes on 18 November, 2019. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Whales slap the surface of the sea off Point Reyes on 18 November, 2019. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Whales slap the surface of the sea off Point Reyes on 18 November, 2019. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Whales slap the surface of the sea off Point Reyes on 18 November, 2019. ©Richard James – coastodian.org

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Crab season is approaching – would you hire a contractor that leaves a mess in your home?

Click the words above “Crab season is approaching – would you hire a contractor that leaves a mess in your home?” to see this entire post.

Commercial crab season is fast approaching. Without any issues causing a delay (domoic acid or other problems) it will open mid-November.

When you hire a contractor to work on your home, one of the criteria in making that hiring decision is how they leave your home once the work is done.

You talk to other customers, ask questions about quality of work, attention to detail, staying on budget and on schedule, right?

You also take into consideration how well they clean up after themselves each day, as well as at the end of the project, right?

If a contractor regularly left their worksite (your home) a mess, scrap wire, lumber, sheet rock laying about, food and drink containers scattered all over your yard and in the street, you’d likely talk to them about it, right?

If they did not correct the situation, you might even fire them and find another crew to finish the work.

You’d certainly be sure to tell anyone that asked about the mess this crew made and to be wary about hiring them.

OK then.

Crab fishing is hard work, no question about that.

But that is no excuse for leaving the ocean and coastline a complete mess each season.

Why do we expect contractors, gardeners, doctors and mechanics to clean up after they do a job, yet, we give a pass to the commercial (and sport) crab fishery each and every year? Even though they dump tons of plastic into the ocean, some of which is ground into fine plastic powder every year.

Recently I walked the southern portion of South Beach at Point Reyes Seashore. The first time I’d been to that area in many months.

I found the usual water bottles, food wrappers, lighters, shotgun shell shot-cups, forks, straws and lots and lots of crab fishing buoys, rope and only one Scotty’s bait jar. Six months since the last season closed and still crab fishing garbage is washing ashore, just like it does each and every day here at Point Reyes.

Crab fishermen, you either need to clean up after yourselves, or pay someone else to do it.

Along the California coast you lose thousands of buoys and traps each year, miles of rope, thousands of bait jars and other items.

This stuff is ground into powder by the waves and rocks and then it enters the food chain of which humans are a part.

Please clean up after yourselves. I’ve asked the Bodega fishermen to clean up the mess they and others leave at Point Reyes.

Their reply was NO, we will not help clean up the mess we make.

My efforts to rectify this situation will increase until marked progress is made.

Images below are from a week ago on South Beach. Links to previous posts on this topic are also below.

Dungeness Crab Season is here – How do I know?

Commercial fishermen are extremely conscious of their impact

Dungeness Crab Season is here – How do I know?

Click on the words above “Dungeness Crab Season is here – How do I know?” to see this entire post

You might think I know it is crab season from all the fresh crab for sale in the market.

More poignantly, I know it is crab season because of all the ropes, buoys, broken bits of buoys, bait jars, bleach jugs, crab traps and other trash put in the sea by crab fishermen that washes up on beaches all along the coast in California.

All the trash deposited on our beaches and in the sea as they extract profit from the ocean.

And none of them will help clean it up.

And the California Fish & Game Commission and California Department of Fish & Wildlife does what to correct this behavior?

Nothing

Just like we need a carbon tax (fee)

We need a seafood fee.

Crab should cost twice what it does, with half going towards cleaning up the mess made by the fishermen catching it.

Same for oysters, salmon, all seafood.

Everybody wants cheap everything, yet nobody gives a damn about the health of the planet that provides everything.

Instead of throwing science at the problems we’ve created.

How about we get out of the way and let nature solve it?

From Drakes Beach on 22 November, 2018

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From other walks along the beach

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Human trash collected from Point Reyes beaches during six visits

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Commercial crab fishing – why so much trash in the sea?

Crab fisherman on strike for $3 a pound, should hold out for $6! Seafood tax a healthy idea.

Commercial crab fishing – why so much trash in the sea?

Click the above text “Commercial crab fishing – why so much trash in the sea?” to see this entire post.

For the past decade I’ve picked up many thousands of crab trap buoys off the beaches of the Marin coast. Many times that of broken bits and pieces of the same buoys. Miles (and hundreds of pounds) of plastic rope, untangled from piles of bull kelp, colied and packed miles off the beaches. Hundreds of plastic bait containers and gallon bleach jugs and other bits and pieces of toxic trash lost or dumped by the commercial (and sport) crab fishing fleet that works the waters off the nutrient rich waters north of the Golden Gate.

While all crab fishermen lose gear each year, some more than others. Not all of them are ignorant of the problem all this plastic poses to the very sea they attempt to make a living from. I know one fellow in particular who does his very best to not lose any gear, as well as to educate his fellow fishermen on how to be a steward of the sea.

I’ve asked him if he could get the fishermen to walk the local beaches as I do and help pick up all the garbage their efforts curse the sea and coast with. “I’ve asked the fishermen’s association to do beach cleanups Richard, more than once. And you know what they say to me? No.”

Is this the attitude of a steward?

What if consumers said no to crab?

The Department of Fish & Wildlife appears to oversee more than one group that feels entitled to exploit public waters for profit, and often make a mess in the process. Then expect the public to clean up after them.

Will DFW ever work as hard protecting the environment from their lessees as they do in promoting extractive (destructive) industries?

I urge the fishermen of California (and Oregon) who work the magnificent waters off our shore to re-double their efforts in becoming authentic stewards of the sea as they harvest their bounty.

At the current rate of more than 8 million metric tons of plastic dumped into the ocean globally each year (and growing), by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean (by mass) than fish. We can and MUST do a better job of protecting our planet.

Below are some images showing a tiny fraction of the crab gear I have packed off Marin beaches.

As always, click on the image to see a larger version.
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More crab gear removed from beaches in years gone by

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Click on image for bigger picture – Should the price of crab reflect the cost to the planet?

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