Oregon’s commercial Dungeness crab season delayed

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Oregon’s commercial crab season has been delayed. Learn more here.

By John Ross Ferrara – KOIN

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The opening date for Oregon’s ocean commercial Dungeness crab season has been delayed until Dec. 16, and possibly longer, after pre-season testing revealed high levels of domoic acid and underweight crabs.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced the delay on Nov. 18, stating that it will prevent wasted crab meat and assure a high-quality product for consumers.

“Pre-season testing shows crabs are too low in meat yield in some areas,” the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a press release. “Elevated domoic acid also was detected in some crab viscera [or] guts.”

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.

“Symptoms of domoic acid poisoning can occur within 30 minutes to 24 hours after eating toxic seafood,” the CDPH reports. “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, disorientation, cardiovascular instability, seizures, excessive bronchial secretions, permanent loss of short-term memory — a condition known as Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning — coma or death.”

Caren Braby, ODFW’s Co-Chair for the Oregon Coordinating Council on Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia, told KOIN 6 that lower-than-desired levels of Dungeness crab meat is a common industry problem caused by molting — the process crustaceans use to shed their old shells and grow into new, larger shells.