August 27th, 2016. Following the highest number of whale entanglements recorded on the California coastline since at least 1982, California Gov. Jerry Brown is now considering whether to sign a bill that seeks to stem this trend.
North Coast Sen. Mike McGuire’s (D-Healdsburg) Whale Protection & Crab Gear Retrieval Act would seeks to regulate and incentivize the retrieval of crab pots that were either lost at sea or neglected by their owners.
According to McGuire’s office, 57 whales were entangled in fishing nets and traps in 2015 with 40 more reports coming in during the first half of this year.
“In light of the record number of whale entanglements over the last several months, we need to get this bill passed and retrieval programs in place to ensure California’s beloved humpbacks and blue whales will have the protection they need to thrive,” McGuire said in a statement on Friday. “I’m grateful for Assemblyman Wood’s partnership to get this bill passed.”
Currently, crab fishermen and fisherwomen volunteer to retrieve lost pots as part of a pilot program started two years ago, with about 1,500 traps collected so far.
McGuire’s bill, formerly named SB 1287, would require the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to create a crab pot retrievement program in which crab fishermen would obtain a permit to collect lost traps and return them for a payment.
The owners of the lost pots would pay a yet to be determined fee for each crab pot recovered, which would be used to fund the program. Those who refuse to pay the fee would lose the permit for their crab fishing boat.