Following the recommendation of state health agencies, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced today that it will extend the open area of the commercial rock crab fishery northward to Bodega Bay in Sonoma County.
On Feb. 10 the commercial rock crab fishery is open from 38° 18′ N. Lat. (Bodega Bay, Sonoma County) south to the California/Mexico border.
At the recommendation of the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham submitted to the Office of Administrative Law an emergency rulemaking to close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point, San Mateo County. Because of this, on Nov. 8, OEHHA, in consultation with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), recommended to CDFW to close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point. State and federal laws prohibit the commercial distribution of seafood products that contain domoic acid levels above the federal action level of 30 parts per million (ppm) in the viscera. The recreational fishery for rock crab remains open statewide with a warning from CDPH to recreational anglers to avoid consuming the viscera of rock crab caught north of Bodega Bay.
Closure of the commercial rock crab fishery north of Bodega Bay shall remain in effect until the Director of OEHHA, in consultation with the Director of CDPH, determines that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and recommends the fishery be open. In the meantime, CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in rock crab within the closure area of the coast. CDPH, in conjunction with CDFW, has been actively testing crabs since early September. The most recent test results showed that domoic acid in rock crabs from Bodega Bay and Point Reyes had fallen below the alert level of 30 ppm in their viscera.
Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin that can accumulate in shellfish, other invertebrates and sometimes fish. It causes illness and sometimes death in a variety of birds and marine mammals that consume affected organisms. 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 can in some cases be fatal.