PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife have once again shut down the recreational crabbing industry between Bandon and the California border, one day after the non-commercial crabbing season was opened statewide.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife initially announced the statewide opening on Jan. 5, after two consecutive tests showed that domoic acid levels were low enough to start the season. However, additional tests performed by the Oregon Department of Agriculture showed that domoic acid levels were higher than the agency south of Bandon.
“Testing areas for Dungeness crab are prioritized, and this new test result was unexpected,” the ODFW said. “It is unfortunate these new results require recreational crabbing to be closed again along the south coast so shortly after it was opened coastwide yesterday.”
Domoic acid is a naturally occurring neurotoxin related to the bloom of single-cell algae. While fish and shellfish are able to accumulate elevated levels of domoic acid in their bodies without noticeable harm, the California Department of Public Health reports that the toxin can be nauseating and potentially fatal to humans and other animals.
The closure includes all ocean, bays, and estuaries south of the Bandon border. Reopening the area for recreational crabbing will require two consecutive tests showing domoic acid levels below the required closure limit.
The recreational crabbing season remains open for all areas North of Bandon. Recreational bay clam and mussel seasons are also open for the entire Oregon coast. Razor clamming is still suspended for the Oregon Coast.
Oregon’s commercial crabbing season remains closed statewide until Jan. 15. Commercial crabbing will see a partial opening on Jan. 15 from Cape Falcon to Cape Arago, pending additional testing. The season is scheduled to open from Cape Falcon to Washington on Feb. 1 in accordance with the tri-state protocol.
In a statement with the ODFW, Tim Novotny with the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission said preseason testing and opening only in regions where crabs are ready to harvest is important for sustainability efforts.
“Look, everyone wants to start Dec. 1,” Novotny said. “But the fishermen know that this process sets a high bar on purpose, so consumers know they’re getting the highest quality and safest product possible.”