Nearly six weeks after the recreational crab fishing ban was lifted for local waters around the Bay Area, the commercial Dungeness crab fishing ban finally ends on March 26. As the Chronicle reports, with the Dungeness season typically nearly over by now, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has declared that the crabs "no longer pose a significant human health risk" from domoic acid poisoning a situation that was caused by a hotter Pacific Ocean last year and a bloom of toxic red algae that got consumed by crabs and other shellfish and small fish.
The season typically runs from around Thanksgiving until springtime, with the majority of Bay-adjacent crab getting thoroughly fished by early February most crab that you'll usually find in restaurants later than that is coming from far further north, like Alaska. Any crab you've eaten so far this season, likewise, has come from far further afield and the crab season south of the Santa Barbara coast was the first to open, back in early January. Per the Chron, even though crab season goes through June 30, most crab fisherman pack up their gear long before then and switch to salmon fishing, with that season opening May 1.
On the plus side, the crabs have had all these extra months just to grow bigger and meatier, meaning that this shortened crab season is bound to be a bountiful and delicious one, beginning next week when restaurant kitchens start getting these fresh crabs.
If you're buying crab for yourself at the market, you should still be warned not to consume the internal organs, and to discard any cooking liquid. Also, only crabs south of the Mendocino County line are deemed safe some of those further north are still showing detectable residual levels of the toxin, even though the algal blooms have largely disappeared.
Though you're likely to find crab dishes popping up on menus and specials boards all over town, Eater has this list from 2014 of some good bets for seafood-centric spots where you're sure to find some Dungeness next week.
Previously: Bay Area To Finally Enjoy Some Local Dungeness Crab This Month