Tag Archives: Dungeness crab

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

More Areas Open for Recreational Dungeness Crab Fishing, Commercial Fishery to Open in Same Areas in 10 Days

Except for one area within Humboldt County, the California coast is open for recreational Dungeness crab fishing. The commercial crab fishery will follow in the same areas, opening May 12.

The recreational Dungeness crab fishery is open north of 41° 17.6’ N latitude at the southern boundary line of Reading Rock State Marine Conservation Area (near Redwood Creek), Humboldt County to the California/Oregon border, however the recreational fishery remains closed between 40° 46.15′ N latitude (a line extending due west from the west end of the north jetty at the entrance of Humboldt Bay) and 41° 17.6’ N latitude.

Today 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), after consultation with the director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), that it no longer recommends the Dungeness crab fishery be closed in this area. According to the notice, repeated sampling of Dungeness crab and analysis of samples by CDPH laboratories indicates that consumption of Dungeness crab taken from this area no longer poses a significant threat for domoic acid exposure.

Pursuant to the emergency regulations adopted by CDFW (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 131), CDFW is providing commercial Dungeness crab fishermen ten days’ notice before the opening of the commercial fishery. The commercial fishery will open at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, May 12, from the Mendocino/Sonoma County line to 40° 46.15′ N latitude (a line extending due west from the west end of the north jetty at the entrance of Humboldt Bay) and north of 41° 17.6’ N latitude at the southern boundary line at Reading Rock SMCA (near Redwood Creek), Humboldt County to the California/Oregon border. The presoak period, during which commercial fishers may begin setting gear in place, starts at 8:01 a.m. Monday, May 9. For answers regarding fair start concerns due to the partial opening of Fish and Game District 6, see the latest department FAQs: Application of the Fair Start Rule to Potential Opening of Closed Areas on the North Coast.

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. The commercial fishery in the newly opened Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 are scheduled to end July 15 under regular open season regulations.

The recreational and commercial rock crab fishery is open along the mainland coast south of 36° 58.72′ N latitude (Sand Hill Bluff, Santa Cruz County) and in the Channel Islands except in the Channel Islands exclusion area between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands (see coordinates below).

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 lat., at the Humboldt Bay entrance, Humboldt County, including ocean waters of Humboldt Bay to the California/Mexico border and north of 41° 17.6’ N lat. at the southern boundary of the Reading Rock SMCA (near Redwood Creek), Humboldt County to the California/Oregon border.
  • On May 12, 2016 commercial Dungeness crab fishery open along mainland coast south of 40° 46.15’ N lat., at the Humboldt Bay entrance, Humboldt County to the California/Mexico border and north of 41° 17.6’ N lat. at the southern boundary of the Reading Rock SMCA (near Redwood Creek), Humboldt County to the California/Oregon border. Note: The commercial fishery is currently open south of the Sonoma/Mendocino county line.
  • Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries are open along the mainland coast south of 36° 58.72′ N Lat.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:

  • Commercial and recreational Dungeness crab fishery are closed between of 40° 46.15’ N lat., near Humboldt Bay entrance, Humboldt County and 41° 17.6’ N lat. at southern boundary of the Reading Rock SMCA (near Redwood Creek), Humboldt County.
  • Commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries are closed north of 36° 58.72′ N lat. 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 Memo: http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=122849&inline

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

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