Pacific Northwest
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WA - Willapa Bay, Grays Harbor Crabbing Close Due to Marine Toxins

OLYMPIA — Recreational Dungeness crab fishing has closed in Willapa Bay and remain closed in Grays Harbor, while crab fisheries on the Washington coast north of Point Chehalis will reopen, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife shellfish managers announced Dec. 22.

Shellfish managers closed crab fishing in Willapa Bay and the popular Tokeland Marina after testing showed domoic acid levels in crab for these waters exceeded standards for safe consumption established by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH). Previous closures on Grays Harbor and the Westport Boat Basin also remain in effect due to elevated marine toxin levels.

“While we are seeing better news in some coastal areas, unfortunately toxin levels have now risen in Willapa Bay and are still high in Grays Harbor and in ocean areas on the southern half of our coast,” said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager.

Re-opening for crab fishing north of Point Chehalis was approved by fishery managers after testing showed domoic acid levels in crab met standards for safe consumption in these coastal areas. Inside the Columbia River (from the outer jetty tips upriver) will also remain open given acceptable test results from DOH.

“Marine toxin sampling will continue in all marine areas as weather and ocean conditions allow,” said Ayres. “We continue to hope more areas can open and make these decisions based on test results from the Department of Health.”

Domoic acid, a natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae, can be harmful and even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities. Cooking or freezing does not destroy domoic acid in shellfish.

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