On February 5, 2013, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Dungeness crab vessel permit trap allocations for the 2013-2014 Dungeness crab season. The announcement follows sweeping changes to laws and regulations governing California’s commercial Dungeness crab fishery signed into law by Governor Brown in 2011. The resulting “Dungeness Crab Trap Limit Program” limits the number of traps that Dungeness crab vessel permit holders can operate during the California Dungeness crab season.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife’s announcement laid out a seven tier trap allocation schedule, allocating between 175 and 500 traps per vessel. A vessel is assigned to a tier based on the number of pounds of Dungeness crab it landed in California between November 15, 2003 and July 15, 2008. The Department of Fish and Wildlife authorized a total of 569 vessel permits and 174,200 total traps.
Permit holders may appeal their Dungeness crab trap allocation through the Department of Fish and Wildlife up until March 31, 2014. Appeals to increase a vessel’s trap allocation will be reviewed and determined via an administrative hearing within one year of date of appeal. Such appeals must include documentation of the circumstances of appeal, including evidence that a permit’s California landings during the November 2003 – July 2008 period were reduced due to unusual circumstances constituting an unfair hardship.
Regulations governing the Dungeness Crab Trap Limit Program and the associated appeal process are currently in draft form and are scheduled to be finalized by March 31, 2013.
Additional information about the new Dungeness Crab Trap Limit Program is available here on the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website. If you have questions about the new program or the appeal process, the attorneys at Janssen Malloy LLP stand ready to assist.