NEWPORT, Ore.— The Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced today the immediate closure of the recreational crab fishery from the Coos Bay North Jetty to Heceta Head, north of Florence, due to elevated levels of domoic acid. This closure includes Winchester Bay and the Siuslaw River in Florence. Crabbing within Coos Bay remains open.
Elevated domoic acid levels were found in the viscera of Dungeness crab collected offshore near Winchester Bay, triggering a biotoxin closure. The remaining areas of the coastline south of Coos Bay and north of Heceta Head will remain open for recreational crabbing. Decisions regarding the commercial fishery for the affected area will be made soon.
It is recommended that crab always be eviscerated prior to cooking. Evisceration includes removing and discarding the internal organs and gills. Despite the closure, crab and shellfish products sold in retail markets and restaurants remain safe for consumers.
Domoic acid or amnesic shellfish toxin can cause minor to severe illness and even death. Severe poisoning can result in dizziness, headaches, vomiting and diarrhea. More severe cases can result in memory loss and death. Shellfish toxins are produced by algae and originate in the ocean. Toxins cannot be removed by cooking, freezing or any other treatment. ODA will continue to test for toxins in the coming weeks. Removal of the advisory requires two consecutive tests in the safe range.