Thankfully, given what seemed like a dire situation earlier this week, the closure of Dungeness and rock crab commercial fishing that has hampered the livelihood of so many was given a boost and reason for hope late Thursday night.
Here’s a release from the California Game and Fish Commission:
The California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) have been notified by the director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) that, in consultation with the director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), a determination has been made that Dungeness crab caught on the mainland coast south of 38°00′ N Latitude (near Point Reyes in Marin County) no longer poses a significant human health risk from high levels of domoic acid and recommends the opening of the Dungeness crab fishery in these areas in a manner consistent with emergency regulations adopted in November.
OEHHA and CDPH still recommend not eating the viscera (internal organs, also known as “butter” or “guts”), and that water or broth used to cook whole crabs be discarded and not used to prepare dishes such as sauces, broths, soups or stews. This precaution is being recommended to avoid harm in the unlikely event that some individual crabs have elevated levels of domoic acid.
The commercial Dungeness crab fishery remains closed statewide pursuant to emergency regulations adopted by CDFW. Some portion(s) of the commercial fishery could potentially reopen next week.
The San Jose Mercury News also had a report late Thursday night:
Tom Mattusch, who operates a San Mateo County charter fishing operation, said Pillar Point Harbor will be a madhouse Friday as fishermen ready their traps and boats next to the staging area for the Titans of Mavericks big-wave surfing contest.
“It’s comical,” said Mattusch, who will be ferrying paid customers out to the surf break Friday to see the competitors up close. “This harbor is chaotic right now getting ready for Mavericks, and now another piece of good news. Unbelievable.”
Massive blooms of algae last year along the California coast, spurred by record warm temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, led to widespread domoic-acid contamination of crab and forced an unprecedented delay to the recreational and commercial fishing seasons, which normally begin in November. Fishermen, restaurants and distributors have seen big financial losses.