Dungeness crab for the holidays, regarded as a birthright by many Californians, is in jeopardy. The California Fish and Game Commission on Thursday morning voted to delay the opening of the recreational crabbing season because of a toxic algal bloom that could be related to warm water temperatures brought by El Niño.
Wednesday afternoon, in a related action, the California Department of Public Health had recommended that people not eat any California-caught Dungeness or rock crab until further notice.
The recreational season for Dungeness crab was scheduled to start Saturday. It will remain closed until it has been determined that there is no longer a risk. The bulk of the commercial harvest is supposed to start Nov. 15 — and its future is still under consideration by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The culprit is a toxin called domoic acid. It’s a neurotoxin that can cause nausea and dizziness at low levels and short-term memory loss and seizures at higher levels. In some cases it can even be fatal.
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