Newport, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced the immediate closure of recreational and commercial bay crabbing from Tillamook Head to the California border due to elevated levels of domoic acid. This includes Dungeness and red rock crab harvested in bays and estuaries, off docks, piers, jetties, and the ocean.
Elevated domoic acid levels were found in the viscera of Dungeness crab collected between Cascade Head and Cape Falcon, triggering a biotoxin closure. The remaining areas of the coastline are being closed out of precaution while more samples are being processed. Additional sample results will be used to inform the reopening areas and the opening of the ocean crab fisheries, which are scheduled to open December 1.
Crab harvesting from Tillamook Head north to the Columbia River remains open, although it is recommended that crab always be eviscerated prior to cooking. Evisceration includes removing and discarding the internal organs and gills.
Despite the closure, crab and shellfish products sold in retail markets and restaurants remain safe for consumers.
Domoic acid or amnesic shellfish toxin can cause minor to severe illness and even death. Severe poisoning can result in dizziness, headaches, vomiting and diarrhea. More severe cases can result in memory loss and death. Shellfish toxins are produced by algae and originate in the ocean. Toxins cannot be removed by cooking, freezing or any other treatment. ODA will continue to test for toxins in the coming weeks. Removal of the advisory requires two consecutive tests in the safe range.
For more information, call ODA’s shellfish safety information hotline at (800) 448-2474 or visit the ODA shellfish closures web page.