SALEM, Ore. — Recreational crabbing must be closed immediately along the southern Oregon coast, according to the Oregon Departments of Agriculture and Fish & Wildlife. Elevated levels of domoic acid in the local shellfish could prove poisonous to humans.
The closure stretches from Cape Blanco down to the California border, and includes all crabs in local waterways. A statement from officials stressed that this includes all bays, estuaries, beaches, docks, piers and jetties.
Commercial crabbing will be allowed to continue, but all crabs must be eviscerated prior to cooking—which means that all internal organs must be removed. Authorities recommend that even recreational crabbers should eviscerate their catch prior to cooking and eating them, even when crabbing is deemed safe.
Crabs and other shellfish already being sold at retail centers are supposed to be safe for consumers. Oregon closely monitors biotoxin levels in shellfish products.
Domoic acid and amnesic shellfish toxin can cause health effects in humans ranging from minor to severe. Symptoms of poisoning from toxic shellfish can include dizziness, headaches, vomiting, diarrhea—even memory loss and death. These toxins grow from microscropic algae, and cannot be removed by cooking or freezing the shellfish.
The Department of Agriculture will continue testing crabs for toxins and notify the public when tests prove to be in the safe range.