November 13, 2015    Headlines

Crab Season Delayed

Crab Update: Friday 11-13
We received some more information on the crabbing front, in a nutshell it's going to be "awhile" before sport or commercial boats will be setting any gear.
Currently crabs are being tested bi-weekly out of all ports. Testing was done this week in Morro Bay and Monterey (we are still waiting on confirmed results)  and weather permitting tests pots will be pulled in Half Moon Bay, the Golden Gate, Bodega and Crescent City next week between November 16 -18th.
Bi-weekly testing will continue until an average domoic acid count of 60 or lower is achieved out of all harbors. Once that happens there will be weekly tests until all ports see a DA level of 30 or below (federal safe standard for the viscera 20 ppm for the meat).  Once that happens a final test will be completed one week later to confirm that the crabs below the federal guideline of 30 ppm.
Tests over the past three weeks show that all Oregon ports but Brookings  are safe. Tests results in Crescent City climbed from 37ppm on September 15th to 66ppm on November 2nd. Tests off Ft Bragg in early November showed that crabs were safe. In the rumor department (but still not ones we can confirm until results from testing are published) is that Morro Bay and Santa Barbara were both within federal safe levels and that 9 out of 10 tests from this past week in Monterey bay were safe.  Again this was passed along by a good source but UNCONFIRMED.
On the November 2nd published tests showed Half Moon Bay had a level of 56 ppm. We will likely not hear of lab results from Bay area harbor until a week after next week's test crabs are brought in on November 16 to 18th.
In Washington state where levels in some ports were in the triple digits last June the crabs did not clean up for four mouths or late September. Dan Ayers who is the top
Washington state researcher on domoic acid in Dungeness crabs says that water quality does not seem to play a role, it's what crabs are feeding on that determined how much DA acclimates in the viscera.
Cal state biologists say that the algae bloom has now dissipated off our coast so hopefully we are a couple of months into this cycle.
That said the California commercial fleet is pushing for a state wide opener and not a piecemeal or harbor by harbor approach. Crabs do migrate and if anyone was to get sick it would cause great harm to a sustainable commercial fishery worth $60 million dollars.
From the info piece I received it looks like the commercial fleet was supporting a 7 day sport opener ahead of any possible commercial start. 
That said I foresee squabbles where some ports have "clean crabs" and sport or commercial anglers want to fish and those ports unable to open due to still too high DA results. Lets all stick together and await clean safe crabs for sport and commercial consumers alike.
We are doing our best to understand and report on this very important issue but are too learning about something that we and many biologists don't fully understand how and why this algae puts off DA.
We will continue to pass along any info as it comes in.
Our Eureka Sponsors Gary with Full Throttle, Tony with the Shellback and Matt on the Fishy Business are looking forward to offering  crab trips as soon as the season opens.

Crab Season Delayed Due to Toxic algae bloom

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife posted the following email / news release late Tuesday 11-3 warning the public that tests this past week have confirmed that Dungeness and rock crabs are testing above action levels for domoic acid levels in both the meat and the viscera from the Oregon border to Santa Barbara.. While this is a warning from the CDPH, we expect that on Thursday  Fish and Wildlife will officially announce a closure to the sport Dungeness crab season for this coming Saturday November 7th to protect the public's health.
Tests are being preformed weekly and we could see the season reopen in a few weeks or a month or more. Most waters off the Washington coast were shut down for the past four months but most have now reopened as tests show there that the crabs there are safe to consume. As our coastal water cool and the associated algae blooms die off we too will see our local crab stocks become safe to eat.

Hopefully the crabs clean up soon and we all get to enjoy some on the table come Thanksgiving or Christmas. This writer is a huge crab fan and while I am disappointed this is the right thing for both CDPH and DF&W to do.
If anyone was to become sick from consuming unsafe crabs the resulting PR would be devastating to the commercial fishery. Be sure to support your local favorite party boat operator during this time and stay tuned for an announcement that the crab season has reopened.

Related stories

Anglers can also get updates on the California Department of Public Health shellfish Hotline at 800 553-4133

CDPH Issues Warning About Dungeness and Rock Crab Caught in Waters Along the Central and Northern California Coast

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) today advised consumers not to eat Dungeness and Rock crabs caught in waters between the Oregon border and the southern Santa Barbara County line, due to the detection of dangerous levels of domoic acid, a naturally occurring toxin.
Recent test results have shown persistently high levels of domoic acid in Dungeness crab and rock crab, which have been caught along the California coastline. The levels have exceeded the State's action level for the crabs' body meat as well as the viscera, commonly referred to as crab butter, and therefore pose a significant risk to the public if they are consumed.
CDPH in conjunction with other state agencies will continue its sampling efforts to monitor domoic acid levels in Dungeness and rock crabs until the levels subside and no longer exceed the State's action level of 30 ppm in the viscera and 20 ppm in the meat. Domoic acid accumulation in seafood is a natural occurrence that is related to a "bloom" of a particular single-celled plant called Pseudo-nitzschia. The conditions that support the growth of this plant are impossible to predict, and it is unknown when the levels found in crab will subside. The health advisory will be lifted once the levels are no longer above acceptable levels.

Pacific Halibut Closure
The Pacific halibut sport season has been closed (they claim that the California sport quota has been met but the reality is that there have been far too few reports of catches to verify this. The North Pacific Halibut Council is controlled by commercial interests who's biggest goal is to put every sport or lodge operation from here to Alaska out of the Pacific halibut business. This is so that they can then claim the sport quota as their own in the future when their are fewer anglers and lodge operations pursuing pacific halibut. It's a completely corrupt system that through individual fishing quotas (IFQ) has successfully (for the commercial fleet) put 100s of Alaska lodges and halibut sport (six pack and party boat) operators out of business over the past five years.
In a nutshell our Pacific halibut fishery was given away to commercial private interests who now own the IFQ. Now it's effecting California sport anglers access to a fishery that gives far too much quota to the commercial side of the fishery. The season here has been cut by more than half on days on the water allowed and it is now closed to all sport but to my knowledge not commercial boats.
Our fisheries are by law a "public resource" but our halibut fishery has been given away to a few private  IFQ holders that in some cases hold rights to millions of pounds of Pacific halibut.  Those millions of pounds are a public resource that YOU MR. SPORT ANGLER can no longer fish for.
The majority of California sport caught Pacific halibut come from the waters off Eureka. It's time for sport anglers and local captains to approach the California Fish and Game Commission and demand a full season of access to this public resource. 

Northern California MPAs
A suite of new or modified marine protected areas (MPAs) are in effect along the  California’s north coast.
A complete list of all north coast MPAs, including detailed regulations and maps, can be found at
DFG’s MPA mobile website, located at, will be updated to include the  MPAs. The mobile website allows the public to use any web-enabled device to locate MPA boundaries and regulations by using an interactive map or searching by name, county or general area. A mobile device’s GPS can also be used to find a person’s current location relative to any MPA. In addition to the mobile website, boaters can view MPAs on nautical charts or other background maps by visiting MarineBIOS at, DFG’s interactive online marine and coastal map viewer.

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