For the first time that many people can remember, California's Dungeness crab season will not open in time for Christmas, spoiling thousands of holiday feasts in the Bay Area and driving a spike of economic pain deeper into fishermen, wholesalers, restaurants and other businesses that rely on December sales of the regional delicacy.

The latest tests of crab from Crescent City to Monterey this month show levels of domoic acid, a neurotoxin produced by microscopic algae, have not dropped below federal safety limits in most fishing grounds on the North and Central coasts. The best-case scenario now is for the season to open sometime in January.

"The domoic acid Grinch took our Christmas crab!" said Phil DiGirolamo, owner of Phil's Fish Market, a popular spot for crab lovers in Moss Landing.

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