Recreational Crab Season Delayed North of Patrick’s Point to Oregon Border Due to ‘Unhealthy Levels’ of Domoic Acid

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Dungeness crabs in a trap. [Photo from Department of Fish and Wildlife.]

Press release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham has enacted a delay to the opening of the recreational Dungeness crab fishery in part northern California. The recreational fishery for Dungeness crab will open for remaining areas on Saturday, Nov. 3.

State health agencies determined that Dungeness crab in state waters from Patrick’s Point, Humboldt County (41° 8.00’ N. Latitude) north to the California/Oregon state line have unhealthy levels of domoic acid and recommended a closure of the recreational fishery in this area. Other areas of the coast will open as scheduled.

The recreational closure includes state waters from Patrick’s Point, Humboldt County (41° 8.00’ N latitude), north to the California/Oregon state line (42° N latitude). State waters extend three nautical miles beyond outermost islands, reefs and rocks. Recreational take and/or possession of Dungeness crab is prohibited in closed waters.

This closure shall remain in effect until the Director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), in consultation with the State Public Health Officer at CDPH, determines that domoic acid no longer poses a significant risk to public health and recommends lifting the fishery closure in this region. CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in Dungeness crab to determine when the Dungeness crab recreational fishery in this area can safely be opened.

Pursuant to Fish and Game Code, section 5523, the Director of CDFW will notify the Fish and Game Commission of the closure and request that the Commission schedule a public discussion of the closure at its next scheduled meeting.

Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin produced by a naturally occurring marine alga, whose levels can be increased under certain ocean conditions, and can accumulate in shellfish, other invertebrates and sometimes fish. It causes illness and sometimes death in a variety of birds and marine mammals that consume affected organisms. At low levels, domoic acid exposure can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness in humans. At higher levels, it can cause persistent short-term memory loss, seizures and death.

For more information:

Memo from Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (10/25/2018)

CDFW Director’s Closure Declaration (10/25/2018)

www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Health-Advisories

www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab

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