A string of press releases from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife brings news of reopened crabbing, clamming, and mussel harvesting.
Just shy of Christmas, ODFW issued several press releases on Dec. 21 regarding the reopening of shellfish along several areas of the Oregon coast. Multiple samples have shown that presence of the marine toxin domoic acid, responsible for the closures, has receded and remained below the department of agriculture’s alert levels after consecutive sampling periods.
Following another announcement by Washington’s Department of Fish & Wildlife reopening clam digging for the Copalis area during the Christmas holidays, razor clams can now be harvested along Clatsop beaches on the Oregon Coast from the Columbia River to Tillamook Head, south of Seaside, but from Tillamook Head south to the California border remains closed.
Mussel harvesting is also reopened coast-wide.
Fishery managers have also cautiously determined the Dungeness crab season will open Jan. 4 along the entire Oregon coast. With the cooperation of the crabbing industry, additional testing has been conducted to provide consumer confidence that crab harvested from the areas are safe in spite of some seasonal delays.
“Along with the state agencies, the Oregon commercial Dungeness crab industry has taken a very proactive and precautionary approach to the opening of this crab season in the interest of public safety.” —Caren Braby, ODFW Marine Resources Program Manager
Testing has shown that levels of domoic acid along the southern half of the state have fallen below the U.S. Food and Drug Administration alert levels for three consecutive sample periods in a row. Based on the testing and collaboration between the the Oregon Department of Agriculture, the Oregon commercial crab industry, the Washington and California Departments of Fish and Wildlife, and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, commercial crab boat lights will head out to sea on New Year’s Day, and be allowed to set gear three days prior to the reopening of the fishery.
Recreational harvest of Dungeness crab in Oregon’s bays and ocean is currently open coast-wide as well.
Despite the recent closures, ODFW says that shellfish products sold in retail markets and restaurants are safe for consumers.
Shellfish will continue to be tested for marine toxins weekly by the ODA, as tides permit. Areas are required to pass two consecutive tests with multiple samples within the safe range in order to reopen.
You can find out more information regarding shellfish safety from the ODA information hotline at (800) 448-2474 or visit the ODA shellfish closures web page.