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Recreational Crabbing Banned on South Oregon Coast; Commercial Season Delayed

Published 11/19/22 at 5:49 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Recreational Crabbing Banned on South Oregon Coast; Commercial Season Delayed

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(Newport, Oregon) - The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) announced Friday that recreational crabbing in bays and estuaries on the southern Oregon coast has been closed. This begins eight miles north of Winchester Bay (at Tahkenitch Creek) and runs down to the California border, including the towns of Coos Bay, Bandon, Port Orford, Gold Beach and Brookings. (Photo Seaside Aquarium / Tiffany Boothe: crab boats off Cannon Beach)

Shutting down recreational crabbing is to prevent people getting sick as recent tests have shown the marine toxin domoic acid is at higher-than-safe levels in Dungeness crab and other species.

These higher-than-normal levels of biotoxins have also resulted in the commercial crabbing season being delayed until at least December 15, but part of that is because crab meat is not as filled out and of sufficient quality in all areas.

Recreational Crabbing Banned on South Oregon Coast; Commercial Season Delayed
Photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection

“Targeted to open Dec. 1, Oregon’s ocean commercial Dungeness crab season can be delayed so consumers get a high-quality product and crabs are not wasted,” ODFW said.

Recreational crabbing in the ocean off the Oregon coast is still under its usual closure until November 30, but that may also be delayed pending more toxin tests.

Meanwhile, recreational crabbing in bays and estuaries is still open from eight miles north of Reedsport all the way to the northern edges of the Oregon coast.

Recreational bay clam and mussel harvesting also remain open along the entire Oregon coast. However, razor clamming is still shut down due to domoic acid.

Domoic acid is a naturally-occurring toxin created by algae in the ocean.


Charleson on Coos Bay: photo courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast

“ODA tests for shellfish toxins twice per month, as tides and weather permit,” ODFW said. “Reopening an area closed for biotoxins requires two consecutive tests with results below the closure limit.”

ODFW said you should always eviscerate crab before cooking it. This includes removing and discarding internal organs, gills and the viscera (guts of the crab).

Testing of crab meat will be done again in coming weeks, and these results will also help determine if the commercial season opens on December 16 or is again delayed. A third option is that different areas will have different opening dates.

Washington and California are also delaying their commercial seasons.

ODFW tests crabs out of Oregon’s six major crabbing ports in partnership with the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission, ODA, and the commercial Dungeness crab industry.

For more information, call ODA’s shellfish biotoxin safety hotline at (800)448-2474, the Food Safety Division at (503) 986-4720, or visit the ODA shellfish biotoxin closures webpage.

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