Domoic Acid and the Recreational Dungeness Crab Fishery: A brief history of monitoring and current recreational fishery information

Freshly cooked Dungeness Crab
photo by E. Roberts III

The California Department of Public Health’s biotoxin monitoring program began in 1927 in response to a massive poisoning event that occurred after people ate mussels containing high levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning toxin. Several deaths and over 100 illnesses were attributed to the event, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

Domoic acid, which causes amnesic shellfish poisoning, is another potentially deadly and naturally occurring toxin that may be produced after a “bloom” of a single-celled plant called Pseudo-nitzschia. Blooms of Pseudo-nitzschia do not always produce domoic acid, and there is currently no reliable way to predict where or when a bloom will produce the toxin. Continue reading

As Crab Season Ends, Time to Collect Gear

traps
Commercial crab traps
CDFW photo by C. Juhasz

With the end of the season less than a month away, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds Dungeness crab fishermen that all gear must be removed from the water by the last day of the season. The commercial and recreational fishing seasons close south of the Sonoma/Mendocino county line on Saturday, June 30. North of the Sonoma/Mendocino county line the commercial season closes on Sunday, July 15, while the recreational season closes on Monday, July 30.

The reminder is part of an effort to clear coastal waters of Dungeness crab traps in a timely manner Continue reading

2017-2018 Season Update for Recreational Dungeness Crab Fishing

crab in trap
Dungeness crab in trap CDFW photo by C. Juhasz

The recreational Dungeness crab season is now under way, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife would like to remind recreational crabbers about some recent changes in trap regulations.

Crabbers are able to use another trap owner’s traps with written permission and, new for this season, a trap owner can issue this permission electronically (for example, by email or text) to another person who uses their trap, provided the person’s GO ID number is marked Continue reading

New Recreational Crab Regulations Aim to Reduce “Ghost Fishing” and More

crab measure
Measure Dungeness crab through the body shell from edge to edge directly in front of and excluding the points (lateral spines). Dungeness crab must measure at least 5¾ inches across. CDFW illustration

This year, the recreational Dungeness crab season opens statewide on Saturday, November 5, 2016. The daily bag and possession limit for Dungeness crab remains ten crabs per day that are at least 5¾ inches across, measured by the shortest distance through the body shell from edge to edge directly in front of and excluding the points (lateral spines). Dungeness crab can be taken in all ocean waters of the state where they occur, excluding San Francisco and San Pablo bays. Continue reading

Agencies Mull Options to Prepare for Future Domoic Acid Events

crab testing
CDPH Dungeness crab testing. Photo courtesy CDPH

In 2015 and 2016, there was an unprecedented bloom of a single-celled plant called Pseudo-nitzschia in ocean waters, which resulted in  elevated levels of domoic acid in Dungeness crab and rock crab. The elevated levels of domoic acid in crab along the West Coast impacted California fisheries from Santa Barbara to the Oregon Border.

The conditions that support the growth of Pseudo-nitzschia are impossible to predict, but tend to be more common in the warmer months Continue reading