Tag Archives: crab season

Recreational Dungeness Crab Fisheries Open South of Point Reyes

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.

Links:

CDPH News Release http://www.cdph.ca.gov/Pages/NR16-007.aspx
OEHHA Memo: http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=116432

State Seeks Federal Disaster Declarations for Commercial Crab Fishing

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. today requested federal declarations of a fishery disaster and a commercial fishery failure in response to the continued presence of unsafe levels of domoic acid, a potent neurotoxin, in Dungeness and rock crab fisheries across California and the corresponding closures of those fisheries.

“Crabs are a vital component of California’s natural resources and provide significant aesthetic, recreational, commercial, cultural and economic benefits to our state,” Governor Brown said in the letter to Secretary Pritzker. “Economic assistance will be critical for the well-being of our fishing industry and our state.”

In early November 2015, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), in consultation with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), recommended a closure based on unsafe levels of domoic acid found in crab tissue that was likely to pose a human health risk. Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin that can accumulate in shellfish and other invertebrates. At high levels, it can cause persistent short-term memory loss, seizures and death. At low levels, domoic acid can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness.

In response to the health and safety risk, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the California Fish and Game Commission took emergency regulatory action to delay the commercial and recreational fisheries for Dungeness crab and close the commercial and recreational fisheries for rock crab north of the Santa Barbara/Ventura County line. CDFW and the Ocean Protection Council, within the California Natural Resources Agency, have continued to work closely with the Dungeness Crab Task Force in seeking advice from fishing representatives.

CDFW has continued to vigilantly monitor the health risks in coordination with OEHHA, CDPH and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. Domoic acid levels have remained at unsafe levels in California fisheries and it remains unclear when it will be safe to reopen these fisheries. The Dungeness crab industry alone is one of the highest valued commercial fisheries in California with a value of up to $90 million a year.

“The federal declaration of a commercial fishery failure will help hardworking Californians who have lost their livelihood to this natural disaster to receive vital economic assistance,” said Charlton H. Bonham, Director of CDFW. “We remain committed to doing everything we can for the affected fishing families and businesses–and communities that depend upon them–across every sector of the crab industry.”

In December 2015, Director Bonham told a Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture that the department was building a case for federal assistance. In January 2016, Governor’s Office of Emergency Services Director Mark Ghilarducci wrote Tanya Garfield, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Director of Disaster Field Operations Center requesting that 15 California counties affected by the crab closure be declared a disaster area to provide Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program assistance to impacted businesses.

The Governor’s request to the Secretary of Commerce initiates the evaluation of a federal fishery resource disaster under the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act of 1986 and a commercial fishery failure under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976. Should a determination be made to declare a disaster and failure, this enables state and federal agencies to work together to determine the full economic impact of the disaster and to provide economic relief to affected crabbers and related businesses.

“CDFW remains committed to working with federal officials to complete the required review for a fishery resource disaster declaration and a commercial fishery failure declaration,” Bonham said.

For more information on the state’s ongoing responses to the health and safety issues posed by high domoic acid levels in California crab fisheries please visit www.cdph.ca.gov/healthinfo/pages/fdbdomoicacidinfo.aspx.

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

Commercial Dungeness Crab Season Opener Delayed and Commercial Rock Crab Season Closed

The Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today enacted an emergency rulemaking to delay the opener of the commercial Dungeness crab season, which was scheduled to open on Nov. 15, and close the commercial rock crab fishery, which is open year round. The closure is in effect today.

“Crab is an important part of California’s culture and economy, and I did not make this decision lightly,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “But doing everything we can to limit the risk to public health has to take precedence.”

The emergency rule prohibits commercial take and possession of Dungeness crab and all rock crab from ocean waters, including bays and estuaries, north of the Ventura/Santa Barbara county line. Closure of the fisheries shall remain in effect until the Director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), in consultation with the Director of the California Department of Public Health (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.

This decision follows a health advisory issued by CDPH on Tuesday. OEHHA followed that with a recommendation for delays and closures. In similar action, on Thursday, Nov. 5, the Fish and Game Commission voted to delay the recreational Dungeness crab opener and close the recreational rock crab fishery. The recreational Dungeness crab season was scheduled to start Saturday, Nov. 7.

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. Once levels drop and the crab are safe, CDFW will coordinate with the Commission so that the season openers for Dungeness crab ensure an orderly fishery balancing recreational and commercial participation.

CDPH, in conjunction with CDFW, has been actively testing crabs since early September and results from the most recent tests showed that the health risk to humans is significant. 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.

Domoic acid is produced from some species of the marine diatom Pseudo-nitzschia. Currently, a massive toxic bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia has developed, significantly impacting marine life along California’s coast. State scientists tested crab from nine ports from Santa Barbara to Crescent City, and determined that domoic acid levels are exceeding the state’s action level.

Algal blooms are common, but this one is particularly large and persistent. Warmer ocean water temperatures due to the El Niño event California is experiencing are likely the cause of the size and persistence of this bloom.

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Memo from Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (11/6/2015)
Finding of Emergency (11/6/2015)
Notice of Emergency Regulatory Action (11/6/2015)
Approved Text of Emergency Regulation (11/6/2015)

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

Commission Delays Opener of Recreational Dungeness Crab Season and Closes Northern Part of Recreational California Rock Crab Fishery

The California Fish and Game Commission today voted 3-0 in favor of an emergency rulemaking to prohibit recreational take and possession of Dungeness crab and all rock crab from ocean waters, including bays and estuaries, north of the Ventura/Santa Barbara county line. Closure of the fisheries shall remain in effect until the Director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), in consultation with the Director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), determines that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and no longer recommends the fisheries be closed.

The Commission also directed the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to maintain a list of closed ocean waters of the state and update that list on Wednesday of each week by 1 p.m. It shall be the responsibility of any person prior to taking Dungeness crab to call the department’s hotline (831) 649-2883 or visit the department’s website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/health-advisories to obtain the current status of any ocean water.

The recreational Dungeness crab season was scheduled to start Saturday, Nov. 7.

CDPH, in conjunction with CDFW, has been actively testing crabs since early September and results from the most recent tests showed that the health risk to humans is significant. CDPH issued a health advisory on Tuesday. OEHHA followed that with a recommendation for delays and closures.

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.

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.

Domoic acid is produced from some species of the marine diatom Pseudo-nitzschia. Currently, a massive toxic bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia has developed, significantly impacting marine life along California’s coast. Biologists tested crab from eight ports from Morro Bay to Crescent City, and determined that domoic acid levels are exceeding the State’s action level.

Algal blooms are common, but this one is particularly large and persistent. Warmer ocean water temperatures due to the El Niño event California is experiencing are likely the cause of the size and persistence of this bloom.

Commercial fisheries are also affected by domoic acid levels. CDFW has authority to delay or otherwise restrict commercial fisheries and is developing an emergency rulemaking under that authority. The commercial Dungeness crab season is currently scheduled to open Nov. 15.

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

Emergency Crab Closure Recommended, Commission to Meet Thursday

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a health advisory warning individuals to avoid eating rock and Dungeness crab due to the detection of high levels of domoic acid. The advisory was followed by a recommendation from the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) to the California Fish and Game Commission and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to delay the start of the Dungeness crab season and close the rock crab fishery. These actions would apply to each fishery from the Oregon border to the southern Santa Barbara County line.

The OEHHA recommendation has prompted an emergency meeting of the Commission, which will take place at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 5 (agenda and meeting information). At that time, the Commission will consider voting to delay the opening of the recreational Dungeness crab fishery. The recreational Dungeness crab season is currently scheduled to start Saturday, Nov. 7.

Also based on the recommendation from OEHHA, CDFW will act on its authority to delay the start of the commercial Dungeness crab season. The commercial Dungeness crab season is currently scheduled to start Sunday, Nov. 15 in most of the state.

Similar action will be considered by the Commission and CDFW to close the recreational and commercial rock crab fisheries in the affected area. Both recreational and commercial rock crab seasons are open all year.

“These are incredibly important fisheries to our coastal economies and fresh crab is highly anticipated and widely enjoyed this time of year. Of course, delaying or closing the season is disappointing,” said CDFW Marine Regional Manager Craig Shuman. “But public health and safety is our top priority.”

CDFW, along with the OEHHA and CDPH, has been actively testing crabs since early September. OEHHA announced today that consumption of Dungeness and rock crabs is likely to pose a significant human health risk as a result of high levels of domoic acid. CDFW will continue to coordinate with OEHHA and CDPH to test domoic acid levels in crab along the coast to determine when the fisheries can safely be opened.

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.

Domoic acid is produced from some species of the marine diatom Pseudo-nitzschia. Currently, a massive toxic bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia has developed, significantly impacting marine life along California’s coast. State scientists have been testing crab from eight fishing ports from Morro Bay to Crescent City, and have determined that the neurotoxin has spread throughout the fishery grounds.

Algal blooms are common, but this one is particularly large and persistent. Warmer ocean water temperatures associated with the El Niño event California is experiencing is likely a major contributing factor to the size and persistence of this bloom.

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