Yes, crab lovers, there will be Dungeness for the holiday season.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has declared that the San Francisco Bay commercial crab fishing season may start as scheduled.
With clear weather predicted for Thursday, Nov. 15, boats have pulled out of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, Pillar Point Harbor on the San Mateo County coast, Monterey Bay and points south to set traps in advance of the 12:01 a.m. start.
Fishing from Bodega Bay north to the Sonoma/Mendocino county line, however, has been put on hold for now because of high levels of the toxin called domoic acid found in crabs tested from those waters.
Still, a robust season is predicted by the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, with 20 million to 40 million pounds of crab expected to be harvested. Only male crabs are harvested, the federation notes, with commercial fishing operations adhering to legal restrictions on size and weight.
“Our crab populations are stable and doing well. Yet climate change continues to threaten crab fisheries in complex and unpredictable ways,” said Noah Oppenheim, executive director of the federation.
In recent years, elevated levels of domoic acid have delayed Dungeness crab season, or, as in the case of 2015-16, destroyed the season.
The microscopic plankton that produces domoic acid thrives in warm ocean conditions. Domoic acid poisoning causes gastrointestinal problems in mild cases. Severe intoxication may cause memory loss and, in extremely rare cases, death. According to state health officials cooking the crabs neither destroys the toxin nor decreases the level of toxicity.
Dungeness crab season 2018: It’s a go for Thursday morning