November 21, 2015    Headlines

Sport and Commerial Crab Season Delayed

Crab Update: November 21st
There is some good news on the Dungeness crab domoic acid (DA) levels results posted by the CDPH. Tests this past week show dropping DA levels out of all ports south of Ft Bragg with some ports testing "clean".
 In a nutshell federal guide lines call for a DA level of 30ppm or lower to be considered safe. They take 6 to 12 sample crabs and use both an average of all samples and the percentage of the combined tests for their final results.
The most recent tests were conducted off Half Moon Bay, Monterey Bay, San Francisco, Bodega Bay and Crescent City.
Off Monterey bay tests conducted on November-12 showed an average DA level of 21ppm but 14% of the crabs still tested above the action level of 30 ppm. In comparison test in Monterey on October-31 showed an average of just 17ppm with 9% being over the action level. A slight increase with most crabs testing safe.
Half Moon Bay saw great results on the November 16th test with an average DA of just 11ppm and 0% above action level.
San Francisco also saw safe results with an average of 10.7ppm and 0% above the action level.
Off Bodega Bay they took samples in two locations on November 16th, Point Reyes and the Russian river. The six samples taken off the Russian river showed an average DA of 25.8 with 50% testing above the action limit. In comparison tests on October 31st showed an average DA of 45ppm with 83% of the crabs tests above action levels.
They also tested off Point Reyes (I believe this was a new tests site and we don't have any earlier results) and here they found an average DA out of six samples of 51pp or 66% of the crabs testing above the action level.
Fort Bragg was last tested on October 30th and showed safe levels with an average of just 6.5ppm and no crabs testing above 15ppm.
Test results from this past week off Crescent City have not been released likely due to bad weather keeping the test boat in port. The most recent tests off Crescent City, Trinidad and Eureka in late October showed DA levels averaging 66ppm with nearly 100% of the crabs testing above the action level. We expect that tests will be conducted off the North Coast ports this coming week. We will post results as soon as they are available.
With the exception of Brookings all Oregon crabs have tested well below action levels for tests conducted in October but apparently they have closed their season until further testing is done.
Shellfish warnings have been lifted off the Central coast so it looks like the toxic algae blooms that caused this have died off.  This algae sinks to the bottom and becomes mixed with the sediment. In turn it is consumed by clams and worms and other things that crabs eat and the reason it takes longer to flush out of the crabs.
The current plan (I believe under the guidelines of the CDPH) calls for testing to be conducted every two weeks until all ports test below 60ppm. Once that happens there will be weekly tests until all ports see a DA level of 30ppm or below (federal safe standard for the viscera 20ppm for the meat). Once the CDPH declares the crabs safe to eat then it will be up to the Director of Fish and Wildlife to open the season. It's a big ocean and with just limited testing being done I'm sure that the CDPH will be conservative before they declare "safe crabs".
The commercial fleet has asked for a state wide opener with a 7 seven day recreational season followed by a full opener for the commercial fleet. There will be some politics in the decision making process especially if crabs off the Central coast show safe DA levels and levels remain high on the North Coast.
All in all good news as DA levels are dropping out of most ports. If tests this coming week off the North Coast show improving DA levels we could all be dumping gear by mid December. 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.
Until the crab season reopens party and private boats are reporting great rockfish and ling action with sponsors like Rick Powers in Bodega and the Smith family in Berkeley and the Emeryville Sporting seeing big sacks and in many cases LIMITS of lings. Come out and enjoy a day on the water and support those who make this site possible. This site would not be possible without their and many other's support.

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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.

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