Fishermen in San Francisco load crabs from traps onto the boat. In an unprecedented move, the California Fish and Game Commission voted on 5 November 2015 to delay the opening of crab season because of potentially deadly levels of domoic acid found in Dungeness and rock crabs along the U.S. West Coast. Photo: NBC Bay Area

[cf. Toxic algae bloom may be largest ever off U.S. West Coast – ‘We’ve never had to close essentially half our coast’, and Scientists fear toxic algae bloom spreading on Pacific coast – Stretching from southern California to Alaska, this year’s blooms thought to be the largest ever recorded]

By Lisa Fernandez
5 November 2015

(NBC News) – In an unprecedented move, the California Fish and Game Commission voted Thursday to delay the opening of crab season because of potentially deadly levels of domoic acid found in Dungeness and rock crabs along the West Coast.

The 3-0 decision was made at an emergency hearing Thursday in Sacramento. It prohibits recreational and sport fishers from taking crabs from ocean waters, including bays and estuaries, north of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. The recreational crabbing season would have kicked off on Saturday.

“There has never been a fishery closure due to domoic acid before,” Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Jordan Traverso told NBC Bay Area.

The algal bloom and domoic acid occurs often, she said, but usually cooler water temperatures have taken over by November, forcing the toxins to dissipate. El Nino-related warm water temperatures is the most likely reason why this bloom is so persistent and large this late in the season, she said. […]

In severe poisoning cases, the neurotoxin can cause seizures, coma or death in humans. The toxin has affected shellfish and sickened or killed seabirds, seals, dolphins, and whales throughout the region. [more]

Unprecedented Crab Fishing Delay Because of Potentially Deadly Domoic Acid: Calif. Fish and Game Commission


By Whitney Filloon, with additional reporting by Kim Stewart
4 November 2015

[…] POST UPDATE Nov. 5, 12:30pm: At this morning’s emergency meeting, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced a 180-day ban on recreational Dungeness crab fishing. Commissioner Charlton H. Bonham is awaiting further test results before making a decision regarding commercial crab fisheries; more information is expected within 48 hours. The Dungeness crab season was slated to open this week for recreational fishing, with the start of the commercial season to follow a week or two later.

The recreational ban will last the full six months unless test results change; said ban can also be extended for up to two additional 90-day periods, if needed. A commercial ban would likely look similar.

This morning it was revealed that the toxicity of this season's crabs is considered very dangerous because the domoic acid was found to be present in the viscera (crab butter) and the crab meat; typically it's only present in the viscera, so this is an out-of-the-ordinary case that required swift action to be taken. [more]

Dungeness Crabs Are Toxic, Declares California Health Department [Updated]

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