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Crabbing on Oregon / Washington Coast Mix of Closed, Open Areas

Published 12/23/20 at 6:35 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Crabbing on Oregon / Washington Coast Mix of Closed, Open Areas

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(Manzanita, Oregon) – It’s a mixed bag of good news and bad news for Dungeness crabbing along the Oregon coast and Washington coast, as some sections are open and others are closed, with differences between recreational and commercial crabbing as well. All recreational crabbing is open along the Oregon coast, while the northern third has delayed the opening of commercial crabbing. On the Washington coast, the closures and open areas are more complex. (Photo above: crab boats off Cannon Beach, courtesy Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium).

The marine toxin domoic acid has closed down crabbing both commercially and recreationally in many coastal areas. It’s been found in many crab samples in Washington, causing Oregon state officials to be extremely cautious with commercial crabbing in the northern areas adjacent to Washington. Domoic acid is a natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae, and it can be harmful and even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities. Cooking or freezing does not destroy domoic acid in shellfish.

Presence of the toxin has also shut down razor clamming along both coastlines.

Washington Coast Crabbing

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) said recreational Dungeness crab fishing has closed in Willapa Bay and remains closed in Grays Harbor, while crab fisheries on the Washington coast north of Point Chehalis have reopened.

Shellfish managers closed crab fishing on December 22 in Willapa Bay and the popular Tokeland Marina after testing showed domoic acid levels in crab for these waters exceeded standards for safe consumption established by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH). Previous closures on Grays Harbor and the Westport Boat Basin also remain in effect due to elevated marine toxin levels.

Crab testing by fishery managers show acceptable levels of domoic acid in areas north of Point Chehalis. Inside the Columbia River (from the outer jetty tips upriver) will also remain open given acceptable test results from DOH.

The commercial Dungeness crab fishery is also closed and will be delayed until at least January 14 in Washington coastal waters south of Point Chehalis, Grays Harbor, Willapa Bay, and the Columbia River.

Harvesters can find up-to-date information on seasons and shellfish safety information on the Washington Shellfish Safety Map webpage.

Oregon Coast Crabbing


While recreational harvesting of Dungeness crab is open along the entire Oregon coast, the commercial Dungeness crab fishery has delayed its opening until at least mid-January from Cape Falcon northward to the Washington border.

The ocean waters south of Cape Falcon (Manzanita area) are open to commercial crabbing, including the major ports of Newport, Garibaldi, Coos Bay, etc.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) said all crab tested from all Oregon’s crab harvest areas have been well below alert levels and all Oregon crab product on the market is safe to eat. The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) will continue to regularly test crab and shellfish to ensure levels in all areas remain below alert levels.

For more information about Oregon’s shellfish marine biotoxin monitoring, call ODA’s shellfish safety information hotline at (800) 448‐2474 or visit the ODA shellfish closures web page.

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