Dungeness crab closures in California to impact holiday sales

Published on
November 29, 2016

A 120-mile portion of the commercial Dungeness crab fishery in northern California, U.S.A. that was scheduled to open on 1 December will remain closed at the recommendation of state health agencies because of toxic algae bloom, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

While the closure of some of the California Dungeness crab fishing areas is not expected to last as long as last season’s closures, the move will certainly impact crab supply for the holiday season.

Under an emergency rulemaking, the area between Point Reyes and the Mendocino/Sonoma county line has been closed since 15 November and remains closed due to elevated domoic acid levels, CDFW said.

In addition, Washington and Oregon have acted to delay their 2016 Dungeness crab seasons.

“The supply is going to be a little tight,” Koen Vermeylen, director of meat and seafood for Sacramento, California-based Raley’s, told The Modesto Bee. “You’re not going to see the USD 3.99 (EUR 3.77) [a pound] crab, the USD 4.99 (EUR 4.71) sales.”

For the 2015-2016 season, most of the California coast was closed for Dungeness crab fishing through March, costing the fishery tens of millions of dollars in lost sales.

However, this year, the fishery north of Humboldt Bay to the Oregon state line will open on 1 December, and remains open from Point Reyes southward.

Plus, “the closed portions of the coast may open once testing by state agencies shows that the area is safe with regard to domoic acid levels,” CDFW said in a press statement.

The closure is understandable, Dave Bitts, president of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations told The Modesto Bee, and he hopes the disruptions will be modest compared to last season’s closures.

“There’s not nearly as many (tainted crabs) as there were last year. It’s much more localized,” he said.

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