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Recreational Crabbing Closed on Part of South Oregon Coast Due to Toxin

Published 05/02/23 at 5:12 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Recreational Crabbing Closed on Part of South Oregon Coast Due to Toxin

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(Port Orford, Oregon) – Part of the south Oregon coast is shut down to recreational crabbing after recent tests have shown the presence of domoic acid, a naturally-occurring marine toxin that is harmful to humans. State officials closed crabbing down abruptly this week after receiving the results. The affected area is eight miles north of Winchester Bay (43° 47' at Tahkenitch Creek) down to Cape Blanco near Port Orford (42°50’). (Above: near Winchester Bay, Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

The closure is a joint decision between the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and ( Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) ODFW, to ensure the safety of consumers. All ocean waters, bays and estuaries in that area are affected.

The shutdown includes new rules for commercial crabbers as well: those crab catches must be eviscerated. This includes any commercial crab landed since last Thursday off of harvest Area 1 (Coos Bay) and any of the the harvest areas off Winchester Bay through Cape Blanco. Oregon coast officials say you should check the commercial updates page.

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Test for shellfish toxins are done twice a month by the ODA, when Oregon coast tides and weather allow. To reopen an area requires two consecutive tests that show biotoxins below the closure limit.

“Domoic acid is produced by algae and originates in the ocean,” ODFW said.

Shutting down recreational crabbing is to prevent people getting sick from the marine toxin. Domoic acid is an increasingly problematic occurrence along the Oregon coast. The exact same area from Winchester Bay down through Cape Blanco was shut down to recreational crabbing late last year as well. These higher-than-normal levels of biotoxins have resulted in the commercial crabbing season being delayed until February 2023.

ODFW also recommends that recreational harvesters eviscerate their crab before cooking. That includes the removal of viscera, internal organs and gills – and then disposing of them.

The remainder of the Oregon coast is still open to recreational crabbing, which includes everything south of Port Orford and all areas north of Winchester Bay through to Astoria. It still leaves areas like Nehalem Bay, Tillamook Bay, Gold Beach, Newport or Alsea Bay open.

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Courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast: crabbing in Charleston

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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