SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The recreational Dungeness crab fishery is now open along the entire California coast after the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Friday that the last remaining stretch of coast has opened.
An area stretching from the Humboldt Bay to the Reading Rock State Marine Conversation Area was opened to the fishery, after the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment recommended that the CDFW and the Fish and Game Commission lifted the closure, according to CDFW officials.
The area was the last remaining closure for the Dungeness crab fishery, according to CDFW officials.
The commercial fishery for that area will reopen Thursday morning, with a pre-soak period starting Monday at 8:01 a.m.
The recreational Dungeness crab season in Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties will close July 30. In the counties south of Mendocino, the recreational Dungeness crab season will close June 30, CDFW officials said.
While the commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries are open along the state’s coast south of Santa Cruz County, the commercial and recreational rock crab fisheries remain closed north of Santa Cruz County and also in an area of state waters between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Island, which is located in the Channel Islands.
The opening of the areas for the Dungeness crab fisheries follows months of closure due to an algal bloom off the Pacific Coast, which caused high levels of domoic acid to accumulate in the crabs, making them unsafe for human consumption.
The Dungeness crab season in California was originally set to start in November, however the CDFW decided to delay the season indefinitely after the neurotoxin domoic acid was detected in the crab meat.
In February, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife moved to allow recreational crab fishing south of Point Reyes, but continued the closure of the commercial season.
The season’s closure, however, caused an estimated $48 million in losses to the industry, state officials said back in February.
In March, U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), along with U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, announced legislation that would provide more than $138 million in disaster assistance funding for California fishermen and businesses hurt by the closure of the commercial crab season.
The legislation, called the Crab Emergency Disaster Assistance Act of 2016, would provide $138.15 million in assistance to Dungeness and rock crab fishermen and related businesses. Funding for the legislation is contingent on U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker declaring the state’s crab fishing industry a disaster and a commercial fishery failure.
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