The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:
California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham delayed the opening of the commercial Dungeness crab fishery from Patrick’s Point, Humboldt County north to the California/Oregon state line after state health agencies recommended to delay the fishery in the area due to elevated levels of domoic acid.
The commercial Dungeness crab fishery in the area south of Patrick’s Point, Humboldt County to the Sonoma/Mendocino county line will open at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019, to be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 12.
This delay 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 California Department of Public Health (CDPH), determines that domoic acid no longer poses a significant risk to public health and recommends opening the fishery in this region. CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in Dungeness crab to determine when the commercial fishery in this area can safely be opened.
No vessel may take, possess or land crab within a delayed area during the closure period. In addition, any vessel that takes, possesses on board or lands Dungeness crab from ocean waters outside of this delayed area is prohibited from taking, possessing onboard or landing Dungeness crab for 30 days in this area once it opens to commercial fishing pursuant to Section 8279.1 of the Fish and Game Code.
Once a positive determination is made to open the fishery, CDFW may provide the fleet a minimum of 72-hour advance notice announcing when trap gear can be set.
For more information, please see CDFW’s Frequently Asked Questions regarding the 2018-19 Dungeness crab commercial season.
This area north of Patrick’s Point remains closed for recreational take of Dungeness crab, also due to domoic acid.
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:
CDFW Director’s Closure Declaration (1/7/2019)
Here’s a statement from the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Association executive director Noah Oppenheim:
“Next Friday, January 25 the last of the California Dungeness crab closures will end and fishermen will finally be working in all areas to bring crabs to shore for seafood consumers to enjoy. We applaud the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for working with the fleet for a timely opener that ensures protection of public health, the resource, and the quality of our California crabs. Domoic acid closures represent a significant climate-related challenge that our fishermen are weathering resiliently. And speaking of resilience, I want to applaud the officers and staff of the US Coast Guard who have been working without pay for weeks to protect safety of life at sea. Thank you for your courage, dedication, and service!”