Category Archives: Marine

More of Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery to Open Dec. 3; Some Areas Will Remain Closed

An approximately 50-mile portion of the commercial Dungeness crab fishery between Point Reyes, Marin County and near Salt Point, Sonoma County that has been closed due to elevated domoic acid levels will open on Dec. 3 at the recommendation of state health agencies, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced today. However, the fishery will remain closed north of Salt Point to the Humboldt Bay entrance. The closed portions of the coast may open once testing by state agencies shows that the area is safe with regard to domoic acid levels.

On Dec. 3 at 12:01 a.m., the commercial Dungeness crab season will open from Point Reyes (38° 00’ N. lat.) to near Salt Point (38° 34.5’N. Lat.).  The opener will be preceded by an 18-hour pre-soak period commencing at 6 a.m. on Dec. 2.  The area between Salt Point and the north jetty at the Humboldt Bay entrance south will remain closed until the CDFW Director receives a recommendation from the state health agencies that levels of domoic acid – a naturally occurring toxin – do not pose a public health risk. Last fall and winter, domoic acid along the West Coast interrupted Dungeness and rock crab fisheries from Santa Barbara to the Oregon state line.

At the recommendation of the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham submitted to the Office of Administrative Law an emergency rulemaking to keep the commercial Dungeness crab fishery closed north of Point Reyes (38° 00’ N. lat.) and to close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point (37° 11’ N. lat.). State and federal laws prohibit the commercial distribution of seafood products that contain domoic acid levels above the federal action level of 30 parts per million in the viscera, or guts. Because of this, on Nov. 8, OEHHA in consultation with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recommended to CDFW to close or delay the start of the commercial Dungeness crab season north of Point Reyes and close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point. On November 23, OEHHA, in consultation with CDPH, recommended that CDFW open the commercial fishery from the north jetty at the Humboldt Bay entrance to the California/Oregon state line at its normal opening date of Dec. 1, and is now recommending the commercial fishery be opened from Point Reyes to near Salt Point.

The recreational season for Dungeness crab opened on Nov. 5 and remains open with a warning from CDPH to recreational anglers to avoid consuming the internal organs of Dungeness crab caught between Salt Point and the north jetty at the Humboldt Bay entrance.

Closure of the above-referenced commercial fisheries shall remain in effect until the Director of OEHHA, in consultation with the Director of CDPH, determines that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and recommends the fisheries be open, and the Director of CDFW provides notification to the commercial fisheries. Recreational fisheries will remain open under a warning to anglers not to eat the guts of crab caught in the affected areas.

CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in crab along the coast to determine when the fisheries can safely be opened. CDPH, in conjunction with CDFW, has been actively testing crabs since early September and results from the most recent tests showed that select crabs from the closed areas had elevated levels of domoic acid in their viscera. Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin that 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 can in some cases be fatal.

For more information:

Memo from Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (12/1/2016)

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

www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Invertebrates/Crabs#315201115-links-to-the-latest-information

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Media Contacts:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Commercial Dungeness Crab Season to Open throughout Most of the Southern Fishery; One Area Will Remain Closed

On Nov. 15, commercial Dungeness crab season will open from Point Reyes in Marin County south, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced today. But at the recommendation of state health agencies, the CDFW Director is moving to close the commercial Dungeness crab fishery between Point Reyes and the Sonoma/Mendocino county line and to close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point in San Mateo County.

This has the effect of closing approximately 60 miles of coastline to commercial Dungeness crab fishing that otherwise would have opened on Nov. 15. The fishery north of the Sonoma/Mendocino county line is not scheduled to open until Dec. 1.

The commercial Dungeness crab fishery had been scheduled to open all the way up to the Sonoma/Mendocino county line (about 60 miles north of Point Reyes) on Nov. 15 and the rock crab fishery is otherwise open year round, but some crabs collected and tested showed elevated levels of domoic acid. The naturally occurring toxin can sicken people who consume crab.

At the recommendation of the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham submitted to the Office of Administrative Law an emergency rulemaking to keep the commercial Dungeness crab fishery closed north of Point Reyes (38°00’ N. lat.) and to close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point (37°11’ N. lat.). Last fall and winter, domoic acid along the West Coast interrupted Dungeness and rock crab fisheries from Santa Barbara to the Oregon state line.

“Given the very difficult season endured by commercial crabbers and their families last year, we were hopeful to open all areas on time this year,” said Director Bonham. “Fortunately, domoic acid levels are much lower than this time last year and, despite this action, we are optimistic we will still be able to have a good season.”

The recreational season for Dungeness crab opened on Nov. 5 with a warning from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to recreational anglers not to consume the viscera of Dungeness crab caught north of Point Reyes. State and federal laws prohibit the commercial distribution of seafood products that contain domoic acid levels above the federal action level of 30 parts per million in the viscera. Because of this, OEHHA in consultation with CDPH recommended to CDFW to close or delay the start of the commercial Dungeness crab season north of Point Reyes and close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point.

Closure of the above-referenced commercial fisheries shall remain in effect until the Director of OEHHA, in consultation with the Director of CDPH, determines that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and recommends the fisheries be open, and the Director of CDFW provides notification to the commercial fisheries. Recreational fisheries will remain open under a warning to anglers not to eat the viscera of crab caught in the affected areas.

CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in crab along the coast to determine when the fisheries can safely be opened.

CDPH, in conjunction with CDFW, has been actively testing crabs since early September and results from the most recent tests showed that select crabs from the closed areas had elevated levels of domoic acid in their viscera. Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin that 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 can in some cases be fatal.

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Memo from Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (11/7/2016)
Finding of Emergency (11/7/2016)
Notice of Emergency Regulatory Action (11/7/2016)

Media Contact:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Recreational Dungeness Crab Season to Open Statewide Nov. 5

The recreational Dungeness crab season is scheduled to open statewide on Saturday, Nov. 5 – with a health warning in place for crabs caught north of Point Reyes (Marin County).

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has issued a warning to recreational anglers not to consume the viscera (internal organs) of Dungeness crab caught in coastal waters north of Point Reyes due to the sporadic detection of elevated levels of domoic acid in the viscera of Dungeness crabs caught off the northern California coast.

The health warning is effective for recreationally caught Dungeness crabs taken from state waters north of Latitude 38° 00′ N. (near Point Reyes). CDPH believes that Dungeness crab meat is safe to consume, however, as a precaution, consumers are advised not to eat the viscera (also known as “butter” or “guts”) of crabs. CDPH further recommends recreational anglers follow best preparation practices to ensure that they avoid any inadvertent exposure to domoic acid that might be sporadically found in some crab’s viscera.

Domoic acid is a naturally occurring toxin related to a “bloom” of certain single-celled algae. Fish and shellfish are capable of accumulating elevated levels of domoic acid in their tissue, which can sicken people who eat them. Last fall and winter, domoic acid along the West Coast interrupted Dungeness and rock crab fisheries from Santa Barbara to the Oregon state line. This year, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will continue to work with CDPH and the fishing community to collect crab samples from the northern California coast until the domoic acid levels have dissipated.

Consult the CDPH biotoxin information line at (800) 553-4133 or CDPH’s Domoic Acid Health Information webpage for more information.

CDFW reminds crabbers of new regulations that became effective on Aug. 1, 2016. For a complete description of the regulations, please go to www.wildlife.ca.gov and click on “New Recreational Dungeness Crab Fishery Regulations” in the Announcements box.

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Media Contact:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 212-7352

CDFW to Hold Public Meeting on Proposed Changes to Red Abalone Fishery

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director’s Recreational Abalone Advisory Committee (RAAC) will be holding a public meeting to discuss proposed regulation changes relative to the recreational red abalone fishery for 2017.

The meeting will be held Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016 from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Marin-Sonoma Mosquito and Vector Control District Boardroom, 595 Helman Lane, Cotati (94931).

The emergency rulemaking proposal is being drafted by CDFW in response to adverse environmental conditions. The changes outlined in the proposal are intended to reduce pressure on the fishery under the guidance of the Abalone Recovery and Management Plan.

Fishery constituents and interested members of the public are encouraged to attend and provide comment.

Other topics to be covered at the meeting include a report of abalone enforcement efforts and the expenditure report for funds generated through the sale of abalone report cards. For more information, please contact Jerry Kashiwada at (707) 964-5791 or jerry.kashiwada@wildlife.ca.gov or visit the RAAC webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/invertebrates/raac.

Persons with disabilities needing reasonable accommodation to participate in public meetings or other CDFW activities are invited to contact CDFW’s Accessibility Coordinator Melissa Carlin at (916) 651-1214 or melissa.carlin@wildlife.ca.gov.

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Media Contacts:
Jerry Kashiwada, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 964-5791
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Recreational Pacific Halibut Fishery to Close Saturday, Sept. 24

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announces the recreational Pacific halibut fishery will close Saturday, Sept. 24 at 12:01 a.m. for the remainder of 2016. Based on the latest catch projections, CDFW expects the 2016 quota of 29,640 pounds will be exceeded unless the fishery is closed.

Formal authority to close the fishery resides with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), which took action to close the fishery following consultation with CDFW.

Beginning in 2015, CDFW committed to tracking the fishery inseason to ensure catch amounts would not exceed the California quota. The quota amount is determined annually in January through an international process, and is largely driven by results from the annual stock assessment conducted by the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC).

Pacific halibut occupy a large geographic range, from the Aleutian Islands eastward through Alaska to British Columbia and throughout ocean waters of the Pacific Northwest. Along the West Coast, they are commonly found as far south as Point Arena in Mendocino County. In recent years, catches in northern California have increased, consistent with a general shift of the stock to the south and east.

CDFW field staff sampled public launch ramps and charter boat landings to monitor catches of Pacific halibut along with other marine sportfish throughout the season. Using this information, CDFW conferred with NMFS and IPHC on a weekly basis to review projected catch amounts and determine when the quota would be attained.

For current information about the Pacific halibut fishery, science or management, please check one of the following resources:

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Media Contacts:
Carrie Wilson, CDFW Communications, (831) 649-7191
Deb Wilson-Vandenberg, CDFW Marine Region, (831) 649-2892