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?

 

The silence is deafening.

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

Click on the text above “Crab fisherman on strike for $3 a pound…” to see this entire post.

Another crab season is upon us, like last year it is far from “normal”. But then again, with respect to the global environment, normal is undergoing radical changes.

Last year the season was delayed for months due to toxic levels of domoic acid in crab flesh (along with many other sea creatures).

This year the agency tasked with regulating crab fishing, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife has sequentially opened small regions of the California Coast to fishing as domoic acid levels drop below safe thresholds.

Instead of one price negotiation at the beginning of the season, wholesale buyers have decided to hold new talks for each region that opens up for fishing.

Bodega Bay fisherman are none too happy about this and have gone on strike. Fisherman want $3 a pound, buyers are offering $2.75 a pound.

Crab fishing is a boom and bust proposition, a few good years followed by a few not so good years. Fisherman try to offset these declines with a good salmon season, though “good salmon season” is a bit of a contradiction in terms of late.

Humans have for decades damned rivers, denying these ancient fish the spawning grounds they need, diverted water from rivers to give farmers water so they can grow almonds, cotton, pistachios and other high margin crops in what was originally the California desert. Pesticide and Herbicide use, clear-cut logging and creek-side construction have further degraded the environment to the point of near extinction for many historically huge salmon runs.

Both Salmon runs and crab populations are under attack, by humans!

Instead of asking for $3 a pound, I advocate crab fisherman hold out for $6.

Give fisherman $3 for each pound and put the other $3 into a fund used to undo the damage we humans inflict on the sea with our insatiable appetite for, well, damn near everything.

Think of it like a carbon tax. The new crab tax.

Set aside money for people like myself and the legions of others that walk our beaches picking up the mess of plastic ropes, plastic bait jars, plastic foam floats, crab traps left on our beaches each crab season to be ground in to a plastic soup by wave action. A soup that becomes part of the food chain of the planet See this post from two years ago for images of what crab fishing does to Point Reyes National Seashore each year.

Human trash collected from Point Reyes beaches during six visits

Research on how to collect crabs without endangering whales could be funded with this crab tax.

Humpback Whale entangled in crab fishing gear Photo: E. Lyman/HWS and NOAA

Humpback Whale entangled in crab fishing gear

Thankfully California has for the first time enacted a law that allows crab fisherman to collect abandoned gear after the season closes to reduce these horrible entanglements (and often deaths) caused to whales and other sea-life.

Reports of recent entanglements:

After huge blue whale gets tangled in crab lines, Californians struggle with elaborate rescue mission

Daring rescue of whale off Farallones

While we are thinking clearly and proposing that human harvesting activities pay the true cost to the planet, let’s double the price of salmon and oysters, clams and mussels. Set aside money to be used to clean up the messes we have made, and then figure out how to stop making new messes as we feed ourselves.

Four damns are soon to come down on the Klammath River, opening up over 300 miles of historic spawning grounds to a salmon run completely wiped out 80 years ago. Let’s restore the natural river habitat that nature found worked, instead of trying to use science to build fast growing salmon.
Another view of this troubling news here.

In a few months the California Dept. of Fish & Wildlife will be holding a meeting to discuss Best Management Practices (BMP) for oyster growers in California. A long needed set of common sense rules for an industry that has historically been operated in a “wild west” sense, with lax or little oversight. Please watch this space for an announcement on where and when that meeting takes place so you can voice your support for common sense rules in all leases for use of public lands/waters to profit by private companies. Send me your email address if you’d like to be notified.

Let’s make sure that Tomales Bay looks more like this

Great and snowy egrets in flight. Tomales Bay, mouth of Walker Creek.

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Instead of this

abandoned plastic trays

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