SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is re-assessing this week when Dungeness crab season can begin. It had been delayed once again from its normal November time slot due to the presence of humpback whales off the coast.
However, some crab fishers are being faced with a financial burden with the season being delayed.
"We only get paid when there is a season," said fisher Matt Juanes. "And if that season gets delayed between one for the next, it could be months."
Juanes has been out fishing for crab for several years. He relies on that income to help pay for things during the winter months. Rising costs of electric bills, food, holiday gifts and more are all things crab season helps him pay for.
"If it keeps getting pushed out, we don't have a paycheck between that," he said. "Bills keep coming in the same, but it doesn't go out."
The Department of Fish and Wildlife says they are conducting more fly overs to see how many whales are still off the coast. Humpback whales are a federally protected species, and DFW says gear used in commercial crab fishing can harm them.
"Based on flights that occurred in early November and actually even most recently, we are still seeing whales feeding," said Ryan Bartling, with the Department of Fish and Wildlife. "Particularly off the coast of the Farallon Islands and Monterrey bay."
DFW says they are checking this week to see if they are still there. They aim to have an update this week determining if crab season can start in mid-December or get pushed back again until around Christmas or January. Juanes is hoping those whales move soon.
"We haven't had a paycheck, we don't know when is it going to open," Juanes said. "That is something that is definitely on all of our minds. Myself and my crew."
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