Domoic Acid Affecting Dungeness Crab Harvest

For the first time in years, Californians who enjoy the Dungeness crab season will be disappointed. Those who are used to enjoying the seasonal feast will find the delicacy unavailable due to elevated levels of domoic acid in the water. We previously spoke on this in a post, but the problem hasn't improved.

Domoic acid, caused by microscopic algae, acts as a neurotoxin, has not dropped to levels that the federal government considers to be safe. These elevated levels of domoic acid have been found in most fishing grounds on the Northern and Central California coasts. Officials in the industry hope that the levels will drop to safer levels sometime in January.

Those who insist on having Christmas crab may be able to find crap from out-of-state sources. Of course, this comes at a higher price and supplies are somewhat limited. According to Phil DiGirolamo, owner of Phil's Fish Market, a popular spot for crab lovers in Moss Landing, crab can be obtained from British Columbia. Washington State sources for crab have also been affected by the domoic acid levels.

When the levels of domoic acid reach elevated levels, it can cause gastrointestinal illness or in rare instances can be fatal. The elevated levels are caused by algae blooms that have been extra strong since temperatures in the Pacific Ocean have been warmer than normal.


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