Late on Thursday, Feb. 2, Oregon fisheries officials announced the closure of the commercial crab fishery from the north jetty of Coos Bay to Heceta Head as a result of elevated levels of domoic acid in crab samples tested by the state.

All crab that has been landed from the closed area since Jan. 25 and currently being harvested will have the viscera removed by Oregon Department of Agriculture-licensed processors to protect consumers from the biotoxin.

Crab fishermen will be allowed in the closed area over the next week to clear out their fishing operations, after which a full fishing prohibition goes into place in the closed area.

Crab meat remains safe for consumption. Domoic acid levels are elevated only in the viscera of crab sampled and tested from the closed area. The area is also closed to recreational harvest. Grounds south of Coos Bay and north of Heceta Head remain open to commercial fleets.

State officials will continue working closely with the commercial Dungeness industry to monitor the coast for domoic acid by testing crab and other shellfish. Restrictions on Dungeness crab harvesting in the closed area will be lifted when test results allow.

Read the full release from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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Jessica Hathaway is the former editor in chief of National Fisherman.

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