MENDOCINO Co., 11/05/19 — Recreational Dungeness crab season opened on Saturday, November 2, but due to high levels of domoic acid, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is warning people on the North Coast not to consume crab viscera caught from Shelter Cove to Point Arena, and from Point Reyes in Marin County south to Pillar Point in San Mateo County.
Domoic acid can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness, and even seizures and death, but the CDPH will continue to monitor domoic acid levels and re-evaluate their warnings regularly if the levels drop.
Another domoic acid related warning was issued earlier in October, warning people not to consume recreationally harvested shellfish from Mendocino and Humboldt counties.
Here's the full announcement for Dungeness crab from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), followed by health information from the CDPH; the information regarding the shellfish warning is included below. You can find updated testing information and answers to frequent questions by visiting CDPH’s Domoic Acid FAQ or calling CDPH’s toll-free “Shellfish Information Line” at (800) 553-4133. Here's our previous reporting on domoic acid warnings along the North Coast.
As thousands of recreational anglers await the start of the statewide sport season for Dungeness crab on Saturday, Nov. 2, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is advising anglers not to consume the viscera of crab caught in two coastal areas due to the presence of domoic acid.CDFW press release, 11/01/19.
In a health advisory issued today, CDPH advises recreational anglers not to consume the viscera (guts) of Dungeness crab caught from Shelter Cove in Humboldt County (40° 01.00′ N. Lat.) south to Point Arena in Mendocino County (38° 57.50′ N. Lat.) and from Point Reyes in Marin County (38 ° 00.00′ N. Lat.) south to Pillar Point in San Mateo County (37° 30.00′ N. Lat.).
Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin produced by a naturally occurring marine diatom (algae). Under certain ocean conditions large blooms of these diatoms occur and then accumulate in Dungeness crab. At low levels, domoic acid exposure can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness in humans. At higher levels, it can cause persistent short-term memory loss, seizures and death. Please remember to eviscerate any crab caught in these regions prior to cooking. This reduces the risk of domoic acid poisoning. Check the CDPH Domoic Acid webpage for the latest crab test results.
Beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2, recreational crabbers are limited to a daily bag and possession limit of 10 crabs that are at least 5 ¾ inches in width as measured by the shortest distance through the body from edge of shell to edge of shell directly in front of and excluding the points (lateral spines).
Dungeness crab may be caught using hoop nets, crab traps, crab loop traps (crab snares) or skin and scuba divers may take them by the use of the hands only.Crab trap buoys must display the owner’s “GO ID” number as assigned by the Automated License Data System and the trap must contain at least one destruct device. When using another person’s trap, written permission, including permission transmitted electronically (i.e. email or text), from the owner of the trap must contain the GO ID number that matches the GO ID on the buoy and must be in the operator’s possession in order to operate the trap.
Minimizing the risk of whale and turtle entanglements remains a top priority of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). CDFW recently requested the Fish and Game Commission consider regulations to reduce the risk of entanglements in recreational Dungeness crab fishing gear. The Commission’s Marine Resources Committee will discuss and consider possible management recommendations at its meeting on Nov. 5 in Sacramento.
CDFW strongly encourages anglers to follow the Best Fishing Practices Guide developed by the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group. Voluntary actions anglers can employ include keeping the line between the pot and main buoy taught and vertical, reducing the amount of vertical line at the surface, avoiding setting gear in the vicinity of whales and turtles, and marking gear consistent with regulations.
Crab trap regulations
CDPH Domoic Acid webpage
CDFW Finfish and Shellfish Health Advisories webpage
CDFW Domoic Acid Fishery Closure Information Line: (831) 649-2883.
CA Public Health announcement concerning Dungeness crab viscera and domoic acid:
Shellfish Safety Notification:CDPH press release, 11/01/19.
Consumers Warned not to eat the Viscera of Dungeness Crab
Caught along Parts of the California Coast
Due to the detection of elevated levels of domoic acid, a naturally occurring toxin, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is warning consumers not to eat the viscera (internal organs) of Dungeness crab caught in coastal waters.
The recreational Dungeness crab season for California anglers begins on Saturday, November 2. This warning is effective for state waters located:
Near Shelter Cove, Humboldt County (40° 01′ N. Latitude) to Point Arena (38° 57.5′ N. Latitude)
Point Reyes (38° 0’.00” N. Latitude) to Pillar Point (37° 30.000' N. Latitude)
While domoic acid levels may vary, consumers should always follow these best preparation practices to avoid any inadvertent exposure to domoic acid that might be sporadically found in the crab’s viscera. When whole crab is cooked in liquid, domoic acid may leach into the cooking liquid. Water or broth used to cook whole crab should be discarded and not used to prepare dishes such as sauces, broths, soups or stews (for example, cioppino or gumbo), stocks, roux, dressings or dips. Cooking crab neither decreases nor destroys the toxin in the viscera or body meat. Consumers are advised to discard the viscera and cooking liquids.
The best ways to reduce the risks are to remove the crab viscera and rinse out the body cavity prior to cooking, or boil or steam whole crabs instead of frying or broiling, and discard cooking liquids.
Symptoms of domoic acid poisoning can occur within 30 minutes to 24 hours after eating toxic seafood. In mild cases, symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache and dizziness. These symptoms disappear within several days. In severe cases, the victim may experience trouble breathing, confusion, cardiovascular instability, seizures, excessive bronchial secretions, permanent loss of short-term memory, coma or death.
CDPH continues to coordinate its efforts with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the fishing community to collect and test crab samples from the impacted areas until domoic acid levels have dissipated. Please contact CDFW for information about the recreational Dungeness crab season.
Test results are updated as laboratory results become available and can be viewed on the CDPH Domoic Acid webpage. Please visit CDPH’s Domoic Acid FAQ for more information. To receive updated information about shellfish poisoning and quarantines, call CDPH’s toll-free “Shellfish Information Line” at (800) 553-4133.