Oregon has closed the south coast to recreational crabbing effective Thursday, from Bandon south to the California border due to elevated levels of domoic acid.
The closure includes Dungeness and red rock crabs harvested in bays and estuaries; and from beaches, docks, piers and jetties.
Recreational crabbing remains open from Bandon north to the Columbia River.
Commercial crab harvested from Bandon south to California must be gutted before it can be deemed safe to eat, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Oregon Department of Agriculture said.
“Domoic acid levels are elevated only in crab viscera, or the guts, of crab sampled and tested from this area of the Oregon coast,” the state said. “For recreational crab harvesters, it is recommended that crab always be eviscerated prior to cooking, which includes removal and discard of the viscera, internal organs, and gills.”
Crab and shellfish for sale in retail markets and restaurants is safe, the state agenices said.
Domoic acid – also called amnesic shellfish toxin – can cause minor to severe illness and even death, the state said.
“Severe poisoning can result in dizziness, headaches, vomiting and diarrhea. More severe cases can result in memory loss and death,” according to the state. “Shellfish toxins are produced by microscopic algae and originate in the ocean. Toxins cannot be removed by cooking, freezing or any other treatment.”
State officials will continue to test for toxins in the coming weeks. The closure could be lifted if there are two consecutive tests that show levels in the safe range.