CDFW Announces Quality Delay for Commercial Dungeness Crab in Northern Fishery, and Important Updates to Pending Opening in Central Fishery

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is providing the following information and important updates on the status of the Northern and Central California commercial Dungeness crab fisheries.

Northern Management Area (Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9):

In a memo released today, CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham delayed the northern California commercial Dungeness crab season due to poor crab meat quality test results. The delayed area in the north includes Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties (Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9).

The northern Dungeness crab fishery is delayed until 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 16, 2019 pending another round of testing tentatively scheduled on or around Dec. 1. If these results indicate good quality and there is no area under an additional domoic acid delay, the fishery will open Monday, Dec. 16, and be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin 8:01 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 13, 2019.

Crab are evaluated to compare meat weight to total crab weight to determine whether they are ready for harvest under testing guidelines established by the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee in conjunction with tests done in Oregon and Washington. If results indicate poor crab quality, the CDFW director may delay the fishery under authority of Fish and Game Code, section 8276.2.

“This industry-supported quality test determines if Dungeness crab have filled out in time following their molting period,” said CDFW Environmental Scientist Christy Juhasz.

If the next round of quality testing continues to show low quality crab, Director Bonham has the authority to delay the season an additional 15 days, until Dec. 31. The season can be delayed no later than Jan. 15, which is what happened in the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 seasons.

Central Management Area (Fish and Game Districts 10 and south):

The Central Management Area (Sonoma County and south) was delayed seven days by declaration of the Director to avoid marine life entanglements and opens at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 22, assuming no additional delays due to domoic acid. This opening is preceded by an 18-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 6:01 a.m. on Nov. 21.

However, ocean waters between Point Reyes, Marin County (38° 00.00’ N. latitude) and the northern boundary of Pillar Point State Marine Conservation Area in San Mateo County (37° 30.00’ N. latitude) has yet to clear for domoic acid. The opening or delay of the fishery in this area will be announced prior to 6 p.m. on Nov. 20.  If the scheduled opener in this area is declared delayed, the fleet will be informed when the area is cleared of domoic acid and, pursuant to Fish and Game Code, section 5523, will be given a 72-hour notice before pre-soak is to commence.

The fleet will be notified via press release and the Dungeness Crab Task Force email listserv as well as the CDFW Domoic Acid Fishery Closure Information Line at (831) 649-2883. All individuals planning to fish in this area are strongly encouraged to check these sources in order to confirm the opening time prior to setting their gear in this area.

For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab and read CDFW’s Frequently Asked Questions on the 2019-2020 Dungeness crab commercial season.

For more information on health advisories related to fisheries, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/health-advisories.

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Media Contacts:
Christy Juhasz, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2887 
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

rock crab

Commercial Rock Crab Fishery Continues to be Extended Northward to near the Mendocino/ Humboldt County Line

Following the recommendation of state health agencies, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced today that it will be extending the area open to commercial rock crab fishing from the Sonoma/Mendocino County line to near the Mendocino/Humboldt County line at 40° 00.00 ‘ N. Lat. This will open all commercial rock crab fishing from 40° 00.00 ‘ N. Lat. south to the California/Mexico border.

On Nov. 8, 2016, upon 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 close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point, San Mateo County. Since that time, new authority established in the Fish and Game Code, section 5523, allowed the Director to open portions of the fishery upon the recommendation from the Director of OEHHA. The fishery was last modified in March 2018, when it was opened between Salt Point, Sonoma County and the Sonoma/Mendocino County line. 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. The recreational fishery for rock crab remains open statewide with a warning from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to recreational anglers to avoid consuming the viscera of rock crab caught north of the Mendocino/Humboldt County line to the California/Oregon border.

Closure of the commercial rock crab fishery north of 40° 00.00 ‘ N. Lat. near the Mendocino/Humboldt County line to the California/Oregon border 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 fishery be opened. CDFW will continue to coordinate with fishermen, CDPH, and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in rock crab within the closure area of the coast. 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 (4/20/2018)

CDFW Declaration (4/20/2018)

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

www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab

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Media Contacts:
Christy Juhasz, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2887
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

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

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

A roughly 120-mile portion of the commercial Dungeness crab fishery in northern California that was scheduled to open Dec. 1 will remain closed at the recommendation of state health agencies, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced today. But the fishery will open Dec. 1 north of Humboldt Bay to the Oregon state line and remains open from Point Reyes southward. 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. 1, commercial Dungeness crab season will open as scheduled from the north jetty at the Humboldt Bay entrance (40° 46.15’ N. lat.) north to the Oregon/California state line (District 6).  The opener will be preceded by a 64 hour pre-soak period commencing at 8 a.m. on Nov. 28.  The area between the north jetty at the Humboldt Bay entrance south to Point Reyes (38° 00’ N. lat.) in Marin County 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.

Under an emergency rulemaking, the area between Point Reyes and the Mendocino/Sonoma county line has been closed since Nov. 15 and remains closed due to elevated domoic acid levels, which 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.). 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, 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.

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 viscera of Dungeness crab caught north of Point Reyes.

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.

The states of Washington and Oregon have acted to delay their respective 2016 Dungeness crab seasons. For more information:

Memo from Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (11/23/2016)

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

www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2016/index.asp

www.wdfw.wa.gov/news/nov2216b/

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

CDFW Announces Latest Dungeness and Rock Crab Openings, Closures

Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries are open along the mainland coast south of 36° 58.72′ N Latitude at Sand Hill Bluff, Santa Cruz County (approximately 9 miles north of Santa Cruz Harbor entrance) to the California/Mexico border. The recreational Dungeness crab fishery is now open south of 40° 46.15’ N Latitude at the northern jetty of Humboldt Bay, Humboldt County to the California/Mexico border, including ocean waters of Humboldt Bay.

Recent test results show that domoic acid levels in rock crab in Monterey and Dungeness crabs south of Humboldt Bay entrance and in Mendocino County no longer pose a significant human health risk, according to notice given today to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Fish and Game Commission (Commission) by the director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), after consultation with the director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

A closure for the recreational rock crab fishery remains in place north of 36° 58.72′ N Latitude and in the Channel Islands exclusion area between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands (see coordinates below) while a closure for the recreational Dungeness crab fishery remains in place north of 40° 46.15’ N Latitude to the California/Oregon border.

The commercial rock crab fishery remains closed north of 36° 58.72′ N Latitude to the California/Oregon border and in the Channel Islands exclusion area between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands (see coordinates below). The commercial Dungeness crab fishery remains closed north of the Mendocino/Sonoma county line.

The recreational Dungeness crab season in Humboldt and Mendocino counties is scheduled to end July 30 under regular open season regulations in the newly opened area while in counties south of Mendocino County, the recreational season closes on June 30.

Despite several weeks of test results that showed 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.

Pursuant to the emergency regulations adopted by the Commission and CDFW on November 5 and 6, 2015, respectively, the current open and closed areas are as follows:

 

Areas open to crab fishing include:

Recreational Dungeness crab fishery open along mainland coast south of 40° 46.15’ N Latitude, at the Humboldt Bay entrance, Humboldt County, including ocean waters of Humboldt Bay

Commercial Dungeness crab fishery open along mainland coast south of Sonoma/Mendocino county line – 38° 46.1’ N Latitude, near Gualala, Mendocino County

Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries are open along the mainland coast south of 36° 58.72′ N Latitude at Sand Hill Bluff, Santa Cruz County (approximately 9 miles north of Santa Cruz Harbor Entrance)

Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries are open in state waters of the Channel Islands except for an exclusion area between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands (see coordinates below)

 

Areas closed to crab fishing include:

Recreational Dungeness crab fishery north of 40° 46.15’ N Latitude, near Humboldt Bay entrance, Humboldt County to the California/Oregon border

Commercial Dungeness crab fishery north of Sonoma/Mendocino county line – 38° 46.1’ N Latitude

Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries are closed north of 36° 58.72′ N Latitude and in state waters between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands within an exclusion area bounded by straight lines connecting the following points in the order listed:

(1) 34° 7.75’ N Lat. 120° 0.00’ W Long.;

(2) 34° 7.75’ N Lat. 119° 50.00’ W Long.;

(3) 33° 53.00’ N Lat. 119° 50.00’ W Long.;

(4) 33° 53.00’ N Lat. 120° 0.00’ W Long.; and

(5) 34° 7.75’ N Lat. 120° 0.00’ W Long.

 

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.

OEHHA Rock Crab Memo 4/22/2016: http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=122565&inline

OEHHA Dungeness Crad Memo 4/22/2016: http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=122566&inline

 

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