The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Fish and Game Commission (Commission) were notified today 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 the emergency regulations. The commercial and recreational rock crab fishery will remain closed north of 35° 40′ N Latitude (Piedras Blancas Light Station) and in state waters around Santa Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Islands. 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 November 5 and 6, respectively, the current open and closed areas are as follows:
Areas open to crab fishing include:
- Recreational Dungeness crab fishery along mainland coast south of 38° 00′ N Latitude (near Point Reyes in Marin County)
- Commercial and recreational 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 38° 00′ N Latitude (near Point Reyes in Marin County)
- 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.
Pursuant to emergency regulations enacted by CDFW regarding the commercial Dungeness crab closure, no less than seven days’ notice to commercial crab fishermen and women is required prior to opening the season. CDFW remains engaged in discussion with the Dungeness Crab Task Force Executive Committee about the potential opening of the commercial Dungeness crab fishery, which could happen next week.
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 http://www.cdph.ca.gov/Pages/NR16-007.aspx
OEHHA Memo: http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=116432