Environment & Science

High toxin level delays California crab season

Dungeness crab cooked.
Dungeness crab cooked.
Gandhu via Flickr

Wildlife authorities have delayed the recreational Dungeness crab season and closed the rock crab fishery for most of California just days after warning of dangerous levels of a neurotoxin linked to a massive algae bloom off the West Coast.

The state Fish and Game Commission voted 3-0 Thursday on the Dungeness delay and the rock crab closure north of the Santa Barbara-Ventura county line. The emergency vote prohibits the recreational fishing and possession of Dungeness crab and all rock crab from ocean waters in the area, the agency told KPCC. 

The panel said recreational crabbing would resume when toxin levels dropped. The Dungeness season was scheduled to start Saturday.

The commission told KPCC that it's now developing an emergency rule to also delay or restrict the commercial Dungeness crab season, which was set to start Nov. 15.

High levels of domoic acid have been found in crabs from the Oregon border to the southern Santa Barbara County line.

The toxin has affected shellfish and sickened or killed seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales throughout the region.

This story has been updated.