Early testing underway for Dungeness crab season

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KGO) -- Early testing reportedly shows normal levels of domoic acid in Dungeness crab for this time of year.

The finding has made Dungeness crab fishermen cautiously optimistic this year will be better than last. It's a pretty low bar given the disastrous season that opened months late last year because of a dangerous toxin. Normally crab season starts in November or December, but high levels of the neuro-toxin, Domoic acid in the Pacific delayed last year's season until May.

"I think for everyone involved it was pretty devastating -- the fishermen, whole sellers, retailers. To lose that in the winter time is pretty difficult. It's usually what pushes you through the winter," said John Tara, Stagnaro Bros.
The industry lost millions of dollars. So this season, the California Department of Public Health is getting an early start on safety tests.

The SF Gate reports they've already collected samples from Crescent City, all the way down to Monterey. Crabs from four of the six regions have tested positive for Domoic acid, but the experts say that's not uncommon. They say the results are normal for this time of the year. They're hopeful this is just the usual path to a healthy crab season and a happy holiday season for all you crab lovers out there.

ABC7 News saw several people go out on fishing boats today in Santa Cruz County -- they're looking for rock cod, link cod and halibut, but the real prize this year would be crab; that is if the season even starts. It was a busy morning at Stagnaros Brothers in Santa Cruz. The wholesale fish warehouse sells just about everything under the sea. They believe the test results are a good sign that the season could be on track for you to have a crab feast for the holidays.

"That will be a nice welcome back. I'm a local. I love local crab. Just to see it back on the docks, in the market, would be really nice," said Nancy Topf, Santa Cruz resident.

Crab season is scheduled to start on November 5 for recreational fishing and November 15 for commercial fishing.

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