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Rest of South Oregon Coast Opens to Dungeness Crab Boats

Published 01/28/23 at 5:30 AM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Rest of South Oregon Coast Opens to Dungeness Crab Boats

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(Gold Beach, Oregon) – After many delays of the season this year, the final sections of the Oregon coast open back up to the commercial Dungeness crab fishery. Cape Falcon to the Washington coast border is getting the green light on February 1, and Cape Arago to the California border is open as of February 4. (Photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

The central Oregon coast and part of the south coast opened up January 15 with Cape Falcon to Cape Arago.

Opening a season always depends on how full crab are with meat and testing negative of any biotoxins. Both were a sticking point this year, with the season often starting on time on December 1. However, this seasons was delayed because of a lack of meat in the crab and heavy amounts of biotoxins. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) said those levels are still somewhat elevated on the southern Oregon coast.

Meat fill is excellent throughout the region now, ODFW said, but because of biotoxins there may be evisceration requirements for some parts of the south coast.

“Harvest of crab from a 'biotoxin management zone' (BMZ), where domoic acid levels are high, may occur only with the pairing of an evisceration requirement,” ODFW said.

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While the announcement this week opens the season February 4 from Cape Arago south, the BMZ location and timing will be dependent on results of on-going biotoxin testing. Test results released this week are below alert levels, but additional testing is required to remove any need for evisceration. The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) tests crab and other shellfish for biotoxins throughout the season.

Domoic acid may be removed by evisceration, the process used to remove the guts where domoic acid accumulates. Any crab landed commercially from a BMZ must be eviscerated by a licensed ODA seafood processor and cannot be sold whole. Traceability measures are required to ensure only properly handled and safe product reaches consumers. This process results in a high-quality, safe product for consumers.

“Opening the crab season in any area with an evisceration requirement is not ideal,” says Caren Braby, ODFW’s Marine Resources Program Manager. “However, we need to get the fishery going for the vessel crews who are waiting for paychecks and to avoid the on-coming migration of whales. We are fortunate in Oregon to have a system that allows this fishery to harvest through biotoxin events and provide a safe, delicious product. Biotoxin events are occurring more frequently due to changing ocean conditions, so we are prepared for the future with our Oregon system.”

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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Charleston, courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast

Baby Dungess Crab, courtesy Seaside Aquarium

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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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