Stay connected with us
around the nation »

CA Rock Crab Pot Fishery

Current Classification on 2017 LOF

Category III
Estimated Number of Participants 124
Target Species Rock crab
Applicable Take Reduction Plans None
Observer Coverage  
Marine Mammal Species/Stocks Killed or Injured Gray whale, Eastern North Pacific
Harbor seal, CA

^ Number of participants estimates are based on state and federal fisheries permit data.  The estimated number of participants is expressed in terms of the number of active participants in the fishery, when possible.  If this information is not available, the estimated number of vessels or persons licensed for a particular fishery is provided.  If no recent information is available on the number of participants, then the number from the most recent LOF is used.  NMFS acknowledges that, in some cases, these estimations may be inflating actual effort.  

*Observer coverage levels include the latest information reported in the most current final Stock Assessment Report (SAR)

1 Indicates the stock or species is driving the classification of the fishery 

Note: Current classification based on final LOF, no proposed changes are reflected in this table.

Basis for Current Classification

Limited information from entanglement stranding records.


The rock crab fishery occurs throughout the state of California in 10-35 fathoms depth, although effort is much more concentrated in the southern part of the state centered around Santa Barbara.  The fishery is open year-round, although landings are typically highest during the spring and summer months.

Gear Description

Rock crab traps configurations are variable.  Common trap dimensions: 24" x 24" x 12", with wire mesh sizes: 1" x 1", 2" x 2", or 2" x 4".  Most traps have entry funnel on the top made of 6" diameter PVC pipe while others have entry funnels on side.  Some use plastic Fathoms Plus traps.  Traps must have at least one ring for escapement (3¼" diameter), two rings required if using less than 17/8" x 37/8" wire mesh.  Destructive device required by law.  Most traps are fished singularly, but strings of 5-25 traps are not uncommon.


In 2003, California began to limit the number of permits issued in the southern part of the state (below 36°00’ N or Lopez Point).  Northern state permits are also issued but are not currently limited.  There are no restrictions on the number of traps that may be fished per permit, but the typical number of traps operated at any given time is less than 200 per permit.  Buoys are required to be marked with the license number of the operator.  


Historical Information

Original Category (Year added to the LOF) III (2014)
Original Number of Participants 300
Basis for Original Classification Limited entanglement stranding record did not point to mortalities of marine mammal stocks.
Past Names CA coonstripe shrimp, rock crab, tanner crab pot or trap, until 2014;
CA spiny lobster, coonstripe shrimp, rock crab, tanner crab pot or trap, until 2010;
CA lobster, prawn, shrimp, rock crab, fish pot, 1996 until 2009
Species/stocks historically documented as killed or injured (but not currently on the list) N/A


Timeline of Changes

  • Estimated number of participants decreased from 150 to 124.


Updated January 14, 2017