Crab season opens but perhaps too late for fishermen

The California Department of Public Health has lifted the health advisory for Dungeness crabs for all areas south of Point Reyes.  But given the demand for Dungeness crab is highest during the holidays, many crab fishermen say it's too late for them to set traps now.

Department officials said the advisory was lifted due to recent tests showing traces of demonic acid have declined to low or undetectable levels in Dungeness crabs caught on California's central coast.

The advisory remains in effect for Dungeness crab caught in California waters in northern areas and for rock crabs caught in waters around Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, the San Miguel Islands and areas in San Luis Obispo County.

Start of the crab season was delayed since November when high levels of Domoic acid, a potent neurotoxin, was discovered in crabs along the west coast. Domoic acid is caused by algae blooms and accumulates in shellfish.

While human exposure to Domoic acid can potentially cause nausea, dizziness, and in severe cases, trouble breathing, confusion, seizures, short-term memory loss, coma or death, there have been no illnesses from crab reported this year.

The delayed crab season has cost the California's economy $48.3 million, according to Gov. Jerry Brown, who sought a federal disaster declaration for the crabbing industry earlier this week.