Testing, procedures delay reopening of some Oregon crabbing areas while others remain open, but monitored.
As reported last week, the Central Oregon Coast remains one of the final destinations for recreational crabbing on the West Coast. As the commercial season is scheduled to open on time, all coastal crabbing fisheries are being closely monitored for the presence of Domoic Acid, the toxin that is the root cause for surrounding closures in other areas.
Troy Buell of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife told Wide Open Spaces that due to a tri-state agreement, there will be no final decisions about closures until this Friday, November 20th, 2015. However, one thing for certain is that the areas that are currently closed will not reopen anytime soon due to the weather interfering with further testing.
Buell also said, “While the change in weather patterns could affect the bloom itself, the crab tend to pick it (domoic acid) up indirectly through other food sources that retain the toxins in their fatty tissue. As the crab consume those food sources it prolongs the presence or those toxins long after the blooms have receded,” adding that, “It probably helps, but it’s not a guarantee it (the toxins) will clear up quickly (in the crab).”
Samples are collected weekly as weather allows. In order to remove an advisory, the samples have to test clean twice in a row, in separate tests from samples taken one week apart. Given that the testing shows a recession in the toxins so crab are safe for consumption by the public, it could take another week until notifications can be confirmed and issued by the state.
The season opener also includes a delay between the time commercial boats can set pots, which is 72hrs prior to when they can legally haul them in. The string of closures and delays leaves commercial operations on the edge of their seat, watching for updates this Friday. “Even if the season opens on time, there’s still an issue that consumer confidence may drop, which is causing quite a bit of industry concern,” said Buell.
Troy Buell can be contacted through the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at: 541-867-0300 ext. 225 (firstname.lastname@example.org)