The recreational Dungeness crab season is scheduled to open statewide on Saturday, Nov. 5 – with a health warning in place for crabs caught north of Point Reyes (Marin County).
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has issued a warning to recreational anglers not to consume the viscera (internal organs) of Dungeness crab caught in coastal waters north of Point Reyes due to the sporadic detection of elevated levels of domoic acid in the viscera of Dungeness crabs caught off the northern California coast.
The health warning is effective for recreationally caught Dungeness crabs taken from state waters north of Latitude 38° 00′ N. (near Point Reyes). CDPH believes that Dungeness crab meat is safe to consume, however, as a precaution, consumers are advised not to eat the viscera (also known as “butter” or “guts”) of crabs. CDPH further recommends recreational anglers follow best preparation practices to ensure that they avoid any inadvertent exposure to domoic acid that might be sporadically found in some crab’s viscera.
Domoic acid is a naturally occurring toxin related to a “bloom” of certain single-celled algae. Fish and shellfish are capable of accumulating elevated levels of domoic acid in their tissue, which can sicken people who eat them. Last fall and winter, domoic acid along the West Coast interrupted Dungeness and rock crab fisheries from Santa Barbara to the Oregon state line. This year, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will continue to work with CDPH and the fishing community to collect crab samples from the northern California coast until the domoic acid levels have dissipated.
Consult the CDPH biotoxin information line at (800) 553-4133 or CDPH’s Domoic Acid Health Information webpage for more information.
CDFW reminds crabbers of new regulations that became effective on Aug. 1, 2016. For a complete description of the regulations, please go to www.wildlife.ca.gov and click on “New Recreational Dungeness Crab Fishery Regulations” in the Announcements box.