Good news from the Bay! It looks like we can entertain visions of feasting on the delicate sweet meat of the Dungeness crab this Thanksgiving, as Recreational Dungeness Crab Season opens Sat., Nov. 5, with only a health warning in place north of Point Reyes in Marin Co.

You can take the crabs from this region, but the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has issued a warning not to consume the viscera (internal organs) of Dungeness crab caught in coastal waters north of Point Reyes (above Latitude 38) due to the sporadic detection of elevated levels of domoic acid in the viscera of Dungeness crabs.

Photo - Five Stars in your Kitchen

Photo – Five Stars in your Kitchen

It was the high level of domoic acid in 2015 that wrecked Thanksgiving and Christmas 2015, New Year’s 2016 and delayed the opening of recreational crab season until well into 2016. In January 2016, no hope was in sight. But things brightened up in February when the recreational season opened up and we eventually saw Dungeness in our local markets.

CDPH and CDFW (Ca. Dept. of Fish & Wildlife) remind recreational crabbers also of the new crab trap regulations put in place in Aug. 2016:

  • Crab trap buoys must display the “GO ID” number of the operator of the trap (a 10 digit identifying number assigned by Automated License Data System – it also appears on your fishing license). You must have a buoy on your trap with this legible ID number.
  • Crab traps must contain at least one destruct device made from a single strand of untreated cotton twine size No. 120 or less that creates an unobstructed opening anywhere in the top or upper half of the trap that is at least 5 inches in diameter when this material corrodes or fails.
  • Crab traps must not be deployed or fished seven days prior to the opening of the Dungeness crab season. In other words, crab traps cannot be deployed until 12:01am Sat., Nov. 5.

In a good year, commercial crab season usually opens two weeks after recreational, and as you know, it did this year. Whole Foods is already flooded with crab orders for Thanksgiving –  so we know what we can serve for appetizers on Thanksgiving – unless of course, you go out crabbing yourself.