On Dec. 31, 2015, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Fish and Game Commission (Commission) were 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 and rock crab caught on the mainland coast south of 35° 40′ N Latitude (near Piedras Blancas Light Station in San Luis Obispo County) no longer poses a significant human health risk from high levels of domoic acid and that the fisheries should be opened in a manner consistent with the emergency regulations. This determination was based on extensive sampling conducted by CDPH in close coordination with CDFW and fisheries representatives.
Pursuant to the emergency regulations adopted by the Commission and CDFW on Nov. 5 and 6, respectively, the current open and closed areas are as follows:
Areas open to crab fishing include:
- Recreational Dungeness and rock crab fisheries along the mainland coast South of 35° 40′ N Latitude (Piedras Blancas Light Station)
- Commercial rock crab fishery along the mainland coast South of 35° 40′ N Latitude (Piedras Blancas Light Station)
Areas still closed to crab fishing include:
- Commercial Dungeness crab fishery statewide
- Recreational Dungeness crab fishery north of 35° 40′ N Latitude (Piedras Blancas Light Station)
- Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries North of 35° 40′ N Latitude (Piedras Blancas Light Station)
- Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries in state waters around San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Islands
Despite several weeks of samples below alert levels, as a precaution, CDPH and OEHHA recommend that anglers and consumers not eat the viscera (internal organs, also known as “butter” or “guts”) of crabs. CDPH and OEHHA are also recommending that water or broth used to cook whole crabs be discarded and not used to prepare dishes such as sauces, broths, soups or stews. The viscera usually contain much higher levels of domoic acid than crab body meat. When whole crabs are cooked in liquid, domoic acid may leach from the viscera into the cooking liquid. This precaution is being recommended to avoid harm in the unlikely event that some crabs taken from an open fishery have elevated levels of domoic acid.
CDFW will continue to closely coordinate with CDPH, OEHHA and fisheries representatives to extensively monitor domoic acid levels in Dungeness and rock crabs to determine when the fisheries can safely be opened throughout the state.
- CDPH News Release: Dungeness and Rock Crab Health Advisory Partially Lifted along the California Coast
- OEHHA Memo: Dungeness and Rock Crab From Mainland Coasts of San Luis Obispo County and Counties to the South
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937