Get ready to feed on some crab at long last, crab lovers. The health warning that shut down local crab fisheries since November has been lifted, and it looks like the commercial Dungeness crab season is now set to begin next week, with fresh, ultra-plump crabs arriving in restaurants shortly thereafter. The crabs, you see, have only had a chance to get bigger with these extra three months in the water.
As ABC 7 reports, Public Health Officer Karen Smith announced the lifting of the ban on Thursday, saying that levels of toxic domoic acid in local catches south of Point Reyes were now safely low or undetectable. The fishing ban remains in effect to the north of Point Reyes.
The Chronicle clarifies that only the recreational crab fishing ban has been lifted, though the commercial ban should be lifted shortly crabbers had apparently asked for week's notice before the ban was lifted, and some are even arguing that the season should remain closed altogether which... that's just crazy talk.
It's even crazier considering that this week Governor Brown asked President Obama for federal disaster relief for California's crab fishermen due to the toxic algae bloom in the Pacific which can be blamed in part on El Nino, but maybe not entirely and fishermen will be eligible for disaster relief money whether crab season opens or not.
Domoic acid poisoning is serious business, and can cause not only major gastrointestinal problems, but also seizures, coma, and even death in severe cases.
Officials are warning that crabs should still be boiled or steamed rather than fried or roasted, and guts should be removed before cooking and the cooking water discarded.
Rock crabs, also, remain unsafe to eat and the ban on fishing for them remains in place.