Central Oregon's coast could be the final destination for recreational crabbing in a string of closures along the West Coast.
Recreational crabbing is still open for sections of the central Oregon coast, and north to Columbia River, in spite of multiple closures along the west coast through California, Oregon, and Washington creating confusion among recreational crabbers.
Closures have also drawn the attention of commercial enterprises in Oregon that are scheduled to start their season on December 1st, 2015.
The latest closure, announced on November 14, 2015, has taken place from Heceta Head on the Oregon Coast south to the California border. It includes both recreational and commercial crabbing in the area.
On November 3, The Oregon Department of Agriculture announced an advisory for all recreational crab taken between Cape Arago, south of Coos Bay, and the California border. High levels of domoic acid have been found in the viscera, but it does not typically affect crab meat at these levels.
Crab harvested recreationally from Cape Arago north to the Columbia River did not fall under this advisory, which has crept up just north of Florence at Heceta Head. It is recommended that crab always be eviscerated prior to eating them. Evisceration includes the removal and discarding of the internal organs and gills.
Commercial crabbing for Newport, Oregon is expected to open on schedule on December 1, 2015 "pending test results involving the possible threat of domoic acid," according to The Newport Times.
The report went on to say that "crab collected in Oregon waters earlier this week passed the preseason, meat pick-out testing that measures the percentage of fill in the crustaceans and the condition of their shells."
Guide Bill Taylor of Osprey Guide Adventures books recreational crabbing trips for up to six passengers on his boat. Taylor says he hasn't experienced any material losses for his business mostly because the people are booking trips to go crabbing with him specifically, noting that most guide boats don't focus soley upon crabbing. However the closures can be frustrating.
"People just keep thinking it is closed as these articles come out," he said.
To clarify, the purpose of the closures is to specifically close areas where levels of domoic acid are not within the guidelines of safe consumption. The areas that remain open continue to produce solid harvests of crab that are still safe to eat within the zone that includes nearly half the state of Oregon.
That presents an opportunity for recreational crabbers to have a second chance to get the jump on the tasty crustaceans during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Recreational crabbing creel reports indicate productivity earlier in the fall, prior to the recent closures.
Harvesting of mussels remains closed from the mouth of the Yachats River in Lincoln County to the California border due to elevated levels of domoic acid. This includes mussels on all beaches, rocks, jetties and bay entrances in this section of the coast.
Meanwhile, all razor clamming remains closed along the entire Oregon coast, again because of elevated levels of domoic acid.
Coastal scallops are not affected by these closures when only the adductor muscle is eaten. The consumption of whole recreationally caught scallops is not recommended.
Recreational mussel harvesting is open from the Columbia River south to the mouth of the Yachats River.
Recreational harvesting of bay clams remains open along the entire coast, and commercial shellfish products remain safe for consumers.