California Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery Remains Closed While Crab Testing Continues

Dungeness crab
Dungeness crab

Update – 3/15/2016   The commercial Dungeness crab fishery remains closed statewide while the recreational fishery opened last month south of Point Reyes, Marin County (38° North latitude) following a recommendation from the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and Department of Public Health that lifted the health advisory for Dungeness crab in this area. Dungeness crab domoic acid test results from Bodega Bay have shown “clean” areas (less than 30 parts per million (ppm) domoic acid concentration in the crab), but the Russian River area still needs two clean tests. An area just north of the Sonoma/Mendocino county line is also being tested, and if results come back with crab at safe levels, this area would not need additional testing. The fishery may open south of the Sonoma/Mendocino county line once the results from these two areas pass the Department of Public Health criteria for testing. Two clean test results have occurred at the northern port areas of Crescent City and Eureka , however Trinidad and Fort Bragg need additional testing and will continue to be tested on a weekly basis. The latest test results are posted on the Department of Public Health’s crab testing results web page.

Rock crab test results from Monterey Bay still have not yielded two clean tests, so the recreational and commercial rock crab fishery remains closed north of Piedras Blancas Light Station, San Luis Obispo County (35° 40’ North latitude). This closure includes the San Francisco Bay. No crab may be taken in state waters off the Channel Islands of Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel. All fishing block areas at the Channel Islands have produced two clean tests, however the Department of Public Health is taking extra precautions to retest one area (Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands, block number 710) following a test that indicated unusually elevated domoic acid levels (in the range of 2.5-550 ppm, 67 percent of crabs with domoic acid concentrations of greater than 30 ppm). 30 ppm is the federal alert level for domoic acid in crab viscera (guts).

The Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Dungeness crab and rock crab fishery information hotline – (831) 649-2883 – is updated weekly by 1 p.m. on Wednesday or as soon as new information becomes available. For further information please also visit the crab information web page.

Post by Christy Juhasz, CDFW Marine Environmental Scientist ♦ photo courtesy NOAA