The Sonoma Coast will be excluded from the start of the commercial Dungeness crab season when it opens off the Bay Area and Central Coast next week, spelling yet more hardship and frustration for a North Coast fleet still smarting from last season’s 4 1/2-month delay.
State officials announced Tuesday they would open the coastline south of Point Reyes to commercial crabbing but keep off-limits a 60-mile stretch of Marin and Sonoma Coastline because of isolated cases of sample crabs showing elevated levels of a naturally occurring toxin.
The situation is a painful echo of a year ago, when a large, persistent bloom of a harmful algae species closed both the sport and commercial crab fisheries along the California coast. It finally abated in late March.
Domoic acid has been detected in sample crabs later this autumn than usual this year, but it was in significantly lower concentrations than a year ago. Samples taken off Bodega Head and the Russian River have proved more problematic than elsewhere.