California OKs Rules to Save Whales, Turtles From Crab Gear
Following a Center lawsuit over the dramatic increase in whale entanglements off California's coast, the state just finalized rules to help save endangered whales and sea turtles from deadly encounters with commercial Dungeness crab gear.
Thick ropes connected to heavy crab traps cut into animals' flesh, sap their strength and lead to drowning. Besides causing needless suffering and death, each entanglement of a humpback whale, blue whale or leatherback sea turtle is a violation of the Endangered Species Act.
Where entanglement risk is high, the state must now close the area to crabbing or take other management actions. Ropeless (or "pop-up buoy") gear can still be used during part of the season in areas otherwise closed to crab gear.
"It's good to see California officials finally taking this seriously," said Center attorney Kristen Monsell. "But we're disappointed they didn't do more to encourage a conversion to ropeless gear — the only way to truly eliminate the threat of entanglement."
If you spoke up for whale protections earlier this year, thank you. You made a difference.