North Coast lawmakers to host Santa Rosa meeting on delay of crab season

State Sen. Mike McGuire and Assemblyman Jim Wood, chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture, will host a public forum next month to discuss the future of the ?crab-fishing industry in the wake of emergency closures due to a toxic algal bloom.

The Dec. 3 event in Santa Rosa will bring together fishery experts, commercial interests and decision-makers to talk about ocean conditions, health issues, economic factors and the future of the $60 million commercial North Coast crab industry.

The meeting comes on the heels of decisions earlier this month to delay the planned Nov. 7 start of the sport crab season and then the commercial season, which was to start eight days later, because of high levels of a powerful neurotoxin called domoic acid in tested crab.

“We know that the North Coast is crab country - it’s a top industry here - and the decision to delay the opening did not come lightly,” McGuire, D-Healdsburg, said in a news release. “This forum will bring all of the industry experts together in one location, focused on protecting the public’s health, ocean conditions and our crab-dependent coastal economy.”

The closures followed warnings from state health agencies about the dangers of consuming Dungeness and rock crab caught in ocean waters off the coast from the Oregon border to the Santa Barbara-Ventura county line. Crab also are off-limits on the southern Oregon coast.

State officials say the fisheries will be reopened when testing indicates the toxic substance is no longer a threat, though it’s unclear when that might be. The latest tests on crab caught out of Bodega Bay showed slightly increased levels of domoic acid at the beginning of November, compared with Oct. 20.

“It is crucial that we know what to expect for the rest of this crab season and what to be prepared for in the future,” Wood said.

The Dec. 3 meeting will run from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Steele Lane Community Center, 415 Steele Lane, Santa Rosa.

You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 521-5249 or On Twitter @MaryCallahanB.

Mary Callahan

Environment and Climate Change, The Press Democrat

I am in awe of the breathtaking nature here in Sonoma County and am so grateful to live in this spectacular region we call home. I am amazed, too, by the expertise in our community and by the commitment to protecting the land, its waterways, its wildlife and its residents. My goal is to improve understanding of the issues, to find hope and to help all of us navigate the future of our environment. 

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