WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Nov. 18 the Senate Commerce Committee passed U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell’s (D-WA) West Coast Dungeness Crab Management Act of 2015. The legislation would make the current fishery management process for West Coast Dungeness crab permanent and allow Washington, Oregon and California to continue to manage Dungeness crab under a preexisting partnership between West Coast states and the federal government.
Dungeness crab supports one of the West Coast’s most valuable fisheries. Last year the Dungeness crab harvest from Washington, Oregon and California yielded 53 million pounds with a value of over $169 million. Washington state, the highest producing state, yielded more than 21 million pounds and brought in over $61 million to the state’s economy.
“The Dungeness crab fishery is a key economic driver of Washington state’s seafood industry which supports more than 60,000 maritime jobs,” said Cantwell. “This legislation will help to ensure the successful Dungeness crab fishery continues to thrive along the entire West Coast.”
Currently, a unique fishery management process called the Tri-State Agreement outlines the partnership between West Coast states and the federal government giving states the authority to regulate Dungeness crab fisheries within their coastal waters. The state-federal partnership is important due to the unpredictable population growth of Dungeness crab. This legislation would make the current agreement permanent and allow the continued authority of Washington, Oregon and California, which is currently set to expire in September 2016.
The bill was co-sponsored by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler and others have supported parallel legislation in the U.S. House.