Northern CA Saltwater

Sacramento: Dungeness crab season opened Nov. 2, health warning issued

Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Nov 05, 2019

SACRAMENTO — Just as the recreational sport Dungeness crab ­season opened off the north coast on Nov. 2, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is advising anglers not to consume the viscera of crab caught in two coastal areas due to the presence of domoic acid.


In a health advisory issued this week, CDPH advises recreational anglers not to consume the viscera (guts) of Dungeness crab caught from Shelter Cove in Humboldt County (40° 01.00’ N. Lat.) south to Point Arena in Mendocino County (38° 57.50’ N. Lat.) and from Point Reyes in Marin County (38° 00.00’ N. Lat.) south to Pillar Point in San Mateo County (37° 30.00’ N. Lat.).

Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin produced by a naturally occurring marine diatom (algae). Under certain ocean conditions, large blooms of these diatoms occur and then accumulate in Dungeness crab. At low levels, domoic acid exposure can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness in humans. At higher levels, it can cause persistent short-term memory loss, seizures and death. Please remember to eviscerate any crab caught in these regions prior to cooking. This reduces the risk of domoic acid poisoning. Check the CDPH Domoic Acid webpage for the latest crab test results.

Beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2, recreational crabbers are limited to a daily bag and possession limit of 10 crabs that are at least 5¾ inches in width as measured by the shortest distance through the body from edge of shell to edge of shell ­directly in front of and excluding the points (lateral spines).

Dungeness crab may be caught using hoop nets, crab traps, crab Scott Sutherland of Berkeley Charter Boats messaged that their combined count on the opener was one thousand six hundred Dungeness crab on El Dorado and El Dorado III. Both boats ran morning and afternoon crab-only trips. Sutherland said, “They are thick out there. Throw a pot in a flat area of the Pacific Ocean and these crab dive in. They are in 60 feet of water and 300 feet. Most boats are working along the Marin Coast. Jars of squid are classic baits but a few carcasses hanging inside never hurts. Our morning runs averaged 20 crab per pot on a 7 to 8-hour soak. It’s gunna be a fantastic month!”

Reports were similar for boats out of Fisherman’s Wharf. Capt. Aaron Anfinson on Bass Tub had limits of crab and near limits of rockfish for the 23-person charter. After a 6-hour soak, the pots averaged 20 crabs per. Capt. Anfinson said, “I did catch a skiff going through our gear first thing this morning, so that did not help.” Lovely Martha was successful with 35 limits of rockfish, 4 lingcod and 35 limits of crab. They caught the crab in 125 feet of water using squid and mackerel on a 7-hour soak. The fish came from the Islands and they were jumbos.

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