Report | August, 2016
Exploring the use of manned aerial overflight surveys to estimate the spatial distribution and abundance of Dungeness crab fishing effort in Monterey Bay
In response to a recent increase in whale entanglements with Dungeness crab fishing gear, the State of California convened the Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group to develop collaborative solutions. Oceana is a member of the working group. This working group identified, among other things, the need to obtain improved data on the spatial distribution of fishing effort to inform efforts to reduce whale entanglements, and recommended evaluating several approaches including aerial surveys. This project explored and piloted a method for collecting such data at a regional scale by conducting an aerial survey of trap buoys from a single-engine aircraft in Monterey Bay on June 16, 2016. We were successfully able to record trap locations, providing a snapshot of traps near the end of the 2015-16 fishing season, three weeks after the California Department of Fish and Wildlife issued a voluntary advisory to reduce fishing effort within Monterey Bay, specifically at the Monterey Canyon edge.