Continued poor quality in Dungeness crab has resulted in another 15-day delay to the commercial season in Northern California, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Friday.

A new opener date has been scheduled for Dec. 31 for Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties, according to a CDFW news release.

However, crab sampled at George Reef in the Crescent City area continue to show domoic acid levels above the federal action level of 30 parts per million, according to the California Department of Public Health. According to a CDPH summary of domoic acid levels in crabs, 67 percent of a sampling of crab caught at George Reef on Nov. 25 showed unsafe levels of the toxin.

CDFW evaluates crab to compare meat weight to total crab weight to determine whether they’re ready for harvest under guidelines established by the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee, according to the CDFW news release. If results indicate low or poor quality, the director may delay the fishery.

Further quality testing will occur by Dec. 21, according to the news release. If the quality remains low, CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham will issue a final announcement delaying the season to Jan. 15, 2019.

No vessel may take or land crab in an area closed for meat quality delays or within an area closed for a domoic acid delay, according to the news release. Any vessel that takes, possesses onboard or lands crab from ocean waters outside a delayed area is prohibited from participating in the crab fishery in any delayed area for 30 days following its opener. According to the CDFW, this applies to Oregon and Washington as well as California.

For more information about Dungeness crab fisheries in California, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab. For more information on health advisories, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/health-advisories.

21960756