Progress For Whales, With More Required
In April, we sent out an alert asking our California supporters to urge their assemblymembers to vote in favor of the Whale Entanglement Prevention Act (AB 534) to protect whales and other marine animals from becoming entangled and killed in crab trapping gear. Unfortunately, it didn’t pass, but there is still some good news.
Whales, highly intelligent and social mammals, regularly die when they become entangled in antiquated crab trapping gear. California has witnessed several years of record-breaking numbers of entanglements with blue whales, humpback whales, and leatherback sea turtles. But of course, no animal wants to get entangled and suffocate underwater or be trapped and unable to escape from a predator, and that includes crabs.
However, the purpose of the Whale Entanglement Prevention Act was to mandate that the crab trapping industry use ropeless gear by 2025, which would ensure that at least whales would no longer drown unnecessarily.
Unfortunately, California Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), who introduced the bill, pulled it when he was appointed as the state’s new attorney general.
That said, we do have some good news to report. On May 18, California announced that its commercial Dungeness crab fishery season would close a month early this year to avoid entangling endangered humpback whales currently migrating along California’s coastline. We and the whales are grateful for the early closure. Without question, lives will be saved because of it.
Antiquated vertical rope traps are inherently dangerous all year round and should be phased out as quickly as possible. However, we hope that another California assemblymember is willing to take up the work that Assemblymember Rob Bonta started and make sure the industry does what is right and modernizes to ropeless gear.
In the meantime, we can all help marine life survive and thrive by leaving seafood off of our plates. It’s easy to make the switch.