| SENATE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES AND WATER |
| Senator Fran Pavley, Chair|
|2011-2012 Regular Session|
BILL NO: SB 369HEARING DATE: April 12, 2011
AUTHOR: Evans URGENCY: No
VERSION: As Introduced CONSULTANT: Katharine Moore
DUAL REFERRAL: No FISCAL: Yes
SUBJECT: Dungeness crab.
BACKGROUND AND EXISTING LAW
The California Dungeness crab fishery is a valuable state
resource - approximately $24 million of crab are landed annually
- and is one of the most profitable fisheries remaining in the
state. The optimal long-term management strategy for the
fishery is a contentious issue due to the competing interests of
the multiple stakeholders.
Sections 8275 - 8284 of the Fish and Game Code (FGC) contain
much of the statutory language relevant to California's
Dungeness crab fishery. Existing law:
Permits the director (director) of the Department of
Fish and Game (DFG) to delay the opening of the fishery in
certain circumstances, regulates certain preparations for
the fishery's opening, and regulates the taking of crab
during these delays;
Establishes eligibility criteria to obtain a commercial
Dungeness crab vessel permit and requires this permit to
Establishes the necessary criteria to transfer and/or
revoke a Dungeness crab vessel permit;
Establishes fees for the permit; and
Requires the director to convene a Dungeness crab review
panel for the purpose of reviewing permits and application
The sunset date for these provisions is April 1, 2012.
In 2008, the Legislature passed SB 1690 (Wiggins, c.727, Stats.
2008) which directed the creation of the Dungeness Crab Task
Force (DCTF). DCTF membership, representative of varied fishery
interests, was specified in the bill. The DCTF was required to
address certain issues of concern to the Dungeness crab fishery
and to report its recommendations for management of the fishery
to the Legislature, DFG and the Fish and Game Commission in
early 2010. DCTF submitted its findings in two reports that
contained multiple management objectives and recommendations for
the fishery. The proposed management objectives focus primarily
on reducing the threat of unsustainable expansion to the
commercial fishery. The recommendations describe specific
actions necessary to support these management objectives,
including, in particular, a pilot program to assess the value of
limiting the number of crab pots available to each permit holder
based upon previously reported catch. Both Washington and
Oregon have recently implemented similar "tiered" programs to
limit total crab pot deployment. Last year, SB 1093 (Wiggins)
sought to implement many of the DCTF's recommendations. This
committee supported SB 1093 twice with votes of 5 - 3 and 6 - 3.
SB 1093 ultimately failed on the Senate Floor the last night of
This bill would extend the sunset date for multiple sections of
the FGC governing the commercial crab fishery by three years to
April 15, 2015. There are additional minor proposed changes in
statute for clarity.
ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT
According to the author, SB 369 "is seen by crab fishermen and
processers as vitally important to the state's crab industry.
First of all, the bill in its current form extends Ýthe sunset
in existing law from] next year to 2015, thereby allowing the
current Dungeness Crab permitting program to continue without
disruption. Secondly, it provides the platform for ongoing work
with Crab Fishery stakeholders to craft a bill that will help
conserve the resource, meet the regulatory requirements of the
Department of Fish and Game, keep unneeded gear out of the
water, and put a halt to the annual cross border race for crabs
that threatens the livelihoods of our fishermen."
The Crab Boat Owners of San Francisco offer additional
"enthusiastic support for SB 369, a bill that will ensure the
long-term sustainability of the California crab fishery" and
"strongly support Senator Evans' leadership" on the issue "to
protect and enhance both the resources and the industry that
depends on it." They emphasize that SB 369 "will implement a
number of recommendations of the Dungeness Crab Task Force.
These revisions will be again driven by consensus within a
stakeholder group made up of a variety of fishing interestÝs]."
The Environmental Defense Fund echoes these remarks and points
out that the crab fishery is the "economic foundation for many
coastal communities" and a "critical natural resource".
ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION
SB 369 is a work in progress
. This bill extends the sunset
dates for the statutory requirements governing California's crab
fishery which are set to expire next year. However, the author
also intends to use this bill as a vehicle to implement the
DCTF's recommendations, although it does not do so yet. The
committee may wish to request that the author bring this bill
back before this committee should substantial amendments occur.
Environmental Defense Fund
Crab Boat Owners of San Francisco
Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations