The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has announced that officials in Oregon, California and Washington have agreed to prolong the coastwide delay until at least Dec. 31, after the latest round of testing showed more of the same: low crab meat yields and high levels of domoic acid in the crabs’ guts.
“Oregon’s ocean commercial Dungeness crab season can be delayed so consumers get a high-quality product and crabs are not wasted,” the ODFW said.
The industry standard for the amount of meat harvested from one Dungeness crab is about 9 to 10 ounces. According to the latest report, local Dungeness crab populations still testing underweight and will need more time to fatten up from their latest round of molting before hitting the dinner table.
Domoic acid levels also remain high in some local crab populations. Domoic acid is a naturally occurring neurotoxin produced by algae and is not noticeably harmful to shellfish. However, the toxin can be sickening or even fatal to humans if consumed in large quantities.
Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission spokesperson Tim Novotny told KOIN 6 that local shoppers may be able to find Dungeness crab that was frozen from last season or caught in local bays prior to the commercial season on Dec. 1.
However, fresh, locally caught Dungeness won’t reach stores until January of 2023 at the earliest.
The third round of testing will be conducted in the coming weeks. Officials in the expansive tri-state area will meet later this month to determine if the season can open, possibly on a limited basis, on Dec 31. In Oregon, the testing is conducted by the ODFW in partnership with the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission, the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the commercial Dungeness crab industry.