SIZE, SEX, AND SEASON
The Dungeness crab fishery has seven crab management areas which have all historically utilized the 3-S management model:
Size: 165 mm minimum size requirement.
Sex: Harvesting females is prohibited.
Season: Haul restrictions and seasonal closures during moulting periods.
There are also strict rules regarding trap limits, gear marking, and gear sizing. Captains maintain daily catch logs that are submitted at the end of each month.
All commercial crab vessels in BC are fitted with electronic monitoring systems. Each boat records their trap locations using RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags.
Each area has their own contracted service provider that monitors the data for DFO to make sure regulations are followed.
Area A (Hecate Strait) was the first crab fleet in North America to have 100% video monitoring of their fishery. Area B (Central Coast) has also implemented video monitoring systems.
Dungeness crab stock assessments are completed in each area every year. DFO and industry-hired service providers (Ecotrust Canada and Pacific Coast) conduct the surveys and collect data that helps us understand the crab population and how it changes year to year. Biological samplers collect data on sex, shell condition, injuries, mating marks, and size.
Area A harvesters also self fund a 20 year running annual soft-shell sampling program and ghost gear retrieval. This soft-shell program helps determine when the major crab moult in the Hecate Strait occurs.
The charter boat continues to test a set amount of crab traps to determine when the moult is finished to determine a reopening date. This charter helps to maximize fishing opportunity while also protecting soft crabs. During the program the chosen charter vessel also searches for and retrieves stray gear.