Sportfishermen are anxiously awaiting the official opening of Dungeness crab season – originally slated for Nov. 7, 2015 – but the opening date has been pushed back. The delay is due to higher than normal levels of domoic acid found in the crab meat and viscera of Dungeness and Rock crabs. Domoic acid is produced by naturally occurring algae (Pseudo-nitschia), which can, if at dangerous levels, be toxic to human beings. This algae floats in the ocean near the surface soaking in sunlight to produce blooms serving as feed for whales and jellyfish, as well as shrimp. The remains fall to the bottom-feeding fish and crustaceans.
The CA State Departments of Fish & Game and Public Health and other agencies warn consumers not to eat any Rock or Dungeness crab caught along the coastline from Oregon to Santa Barbara until further notice. They are monitoring levels of domoic acid in the crabs and as soon as the levels subside, they will lift the warning.
UPDATE: Today, Nov. 5, The California Fish and Game Commission voted to postpone the opening of recreational crab season for up to six months. “The fisherman down at Emeryville Sportfishing are optimistic that the season will open much sooner. The State has the option to open it whenever they decide,” according to Emeryville Sportfishing’s owner Craig Stone.
Commercial Dungeness crab season was slated to open on Nov. 15. If that date gets pushed back too far, does that mean there will be no fresh Dungeness crab for Thanksgiving? No word yet on commercial crabbing opening date, though Stone believes it definitely is delayed. North West crab fisherman are fearful that the warnings against crab toxicity in the SF Bay will drive down prices and demand, though Seattle’s crabs are fine – way below the toxic level. Emeryville on the Bay will keep you posted. Or you can call the CDPH’s biotoxin phone line at (800) 553-4133.
Emeryville Sportfishing sent out two boats on Sun., Nov. 1, with 22 anglers catching 220 Rockfish and 66 Ling cod . (Salmon season closed on Sat., Oct. 31.) Emeryville Sportfishing is located in the Emeryville Marina at 3310 Powell Street in Emeryville, CA off Highway 80. For printable driving directions from your location to Emeryville Sportfishing follow this link. You can reserve a boat now at 510-654-6040.