State lifts Dungeness crab safety warning over domoic acid; CDFW delays season until Dec. 31 over quality

Dungeness crab season is delayed until Dec. 31, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. (DFM file photo)
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UPDATE:

The following is from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Director Bonham has also announced an additional 15-day delay of the northern California commercial Dungeness crab season. The new opener is Dec. 31, 2019. Results of the Dec. 3 quality test continue to show crab are below the minimum testing guidelines established by the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee and are not yet ready for harvesting.

Delays due to quality affect the entire northern commercial fishery in Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties (California Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9). The season in these districts is now scheduled to open at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019, to be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Dec. 28, 2019.

Additional testing will be scheduled to occur by Dec. 20 to determine whether the season can open on Dec. 31 or will be delayed once more until Jan. 15, 2020.

No vessel may take or land crab in an area closed for a meat quality delay (i.e., Fish and Game districts 6, 7, 8 and 9). In addition, any vessel that takes, possesses onboard or lands crab from ocean waters outside of a delayed area is prohibited from participating in the crab fishery in the delayed area for 30 days following the opening of that area.

For more information, please see CDFW’s Frequently Asked Questions regarding the 2019-2020 Dungeness crab commercial season and www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Whale-Safe-Fisheries.

PREVOUSLY

From a California Department of Public Health release:

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has lifted the shellfish safety notification for Dungeness crab caught in state waters from Shelter Cove (40° 01′ N. Latitude) to Point Arena (38° 57.5′ N. Latitude) in Humboldt County. CDPH lifted this advisory today due to recent tests showing that domoic acid has declined to low or undetectable levels in Dungeness crab caught in the area, indicating they are safe to consume. There have been no reported illnesses associated with this event.

CDPH initially warned consumers on November 1, 2019 not to consume the viscera of Dungeness crab in that region.

While domoic acid levels may vary, consumers should always follow these best preparation practices to avoid any inadvertent exposure to domoic acid that might be sporadically found in the crab’s viscera. When whole crab is cooked in liquid, domoic acid may leach into the cooking liquid. Water or broth used to cook whole crab should be discarded and not used to prepare dishes such as sauces, broths, soups or stews (for example, cioppino or gumbo), stocks, roux, dressings or dips. Cooking crab neither decreases nor destroys the toxin in the viscera or body meat. Consumers are advised to discard the viscera and cooking liquids.

The best ways to reduce the risks are to remove the crab viscera and rinse out the body cavity prior to cooking, or boil or steam whole crabs instead of frying or broiling, and discard cooking liquids.

Symptoms of domoic acid poisoning can occur within 30 minutes to 24 hours after eating toxic seafood. In mild cases, symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache and dizziness. These symptoms disappear within several days. In severe cases, the victim may experience trouble breathing, confusion, cardiovascular instability, seizures, excessive bronchial secretions, permanent loss of short-term memory, coma or death.

Test results can be viewed on the CDPH Domoic Acid webpage. Please visit CDPH’s Domoic Acid FAQ webpage for more information. For the most current information on shellfish advisories and quarantines, call CDPH’s toll-free Shellfish Information Line at (800) 553-4133.

Watch this space for updates. Got a tip? Let us know at reporters@times-standard.com or at 707-441-0500.

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