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Old 11-03-2015, 12:20   #1
Lan
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California crab season could be delayed

"PRINCETON-BY-THE-SEA -- Bay Area fishermen are worried that the Dungeness crab season could be delayed by high levels of a naturally occurring toxin that's harmful to humans.

State officials are conducting tests to determine the levels of domoic acid in the crab and expect to announce the results midweek. The acid is found in phytoplankton, or algae, that are eaten by shrimp and other organisms whose remains are eventually consumed by the bottom-feeding crustaceans.

Don Marshall, a fishermen out of Pillar Point Harbor in San Mateo County, said the Northern California fleet is worried that the commercial season, slated to open Nov. 15 in time for Thanksgiving, could be delayed for weeks and even months. The Nov. 7 opening of the recreational season could also be pushed back.

"If we lose the Thanksgiving market and the holiday market, that's a crusher for us," said Marshall, who is president of California's Small Boat Trollers Association.

Marshall said he isn't worried about the season being cancelled altogether, because he expects the algae bloom, associated with warm ocean temperatures, will eventually dissipate when the winter brings colder currents down from the north.

The toxic algae are also causing problems in Oregon and Washington, the latter of which shut down the final months of the Dungeness crab fishery this summer along much of its coast.

"This whole thing was unprecedented," said Dan Ayres, spokesman for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. "We've never had a closure with Dungeness crab of this magnitude."

Washington officials also closed the razor clam fishery this summer, causing a roughly $20 million loss for coastal communities that rely on recreational clamming as a draw for tourists, Ayres said.

Phytoplankton are the building blocks of the ocean's food supply, converting sunlight and inorganic nutrients into organic compounds that serve as food for other organisms.

Harmful blooms occur when the phytoplankton multiply to the point where there are about 1 million cells per liter of water, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Northwest Fisheries Science Center.

At that point the algae produce biotoxins that are among the world's most toxic compounds, according to NOAA. Mild domoic acid poisoning may include vomiting and diarrhea. Severe cases can be fatal."

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Old 11-03-2015, 21:43   #2
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Update

Report is out. Crabs are not safe for consumption yet.

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