Dungeness crab season opens next week

The commercial Dungeness crab fishery will open as scheduled next month because the levels of domoic acid in the crabs are low enough that eating them does not pose a health risk, officials with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said Wednesday.

The fishery area from the north jetty at the entrance of the Humboldt Bay to the Oregon state line will open Dec. 1 and the area from Point Reyes in Marin County south remains open. But the roughly 120-mile area in between will remain closed because of high levels of domoic acid.

Domoic acid is a neurotoxin that at low levels can cause people to have nausea, diarrhea and dizziness and at higher levels can cause persistent short-term memory loss, seizures and death.

The closure follows a closure last fall and winter of the Dungeness and rock crab fisheries from Santa Barbara to the Oregon state line, which had a significant economic impact on fishermen.

The closure between Humboldt Bay and Point Reyes will remain in place until domoic acid levels are safe for eating.

The recreational Dungeness crab season remains open with a warning from the California Department of Public Health that people should avoid consuming the viscera or internal organs of the crab – more commonly called “crab butter.”