Since the state Department of Fish and Wildlife has put on a halt on the Commercial Dungeness Crab Season three months back, the move has already has provided a big blow to the fishing industry. Many were hoping that the crab hunting season will unfurl soon, however, an announcement made by the organization yesterday has once again disappointed the fishermen.
The announcement said that the season will continue to be closed until all or part of the coast is free from the deadly toxin that is present in the crabs.
According to earlier reports, the crabs were filled with toxic domoic acid, a neurotoxin which is generated by specific species of marine algae. The crabs contract the toxin by feeding on sea creatures that eat the algae. Eating the crabs poses health concerns on the consumers as it permit the toxin to pass through them. Consuming the crabs laced with toxins can pave the way for nausea and diarrhea at low levels and seizures or worse, even death with higher doses.
The announcement made by Charlton Bonham on Wednesday, which happens to be the director of the department, was in a reaction to possible health risk if the crab season is opened. Bonham said that human safety is most important.
The Californian Dungeness crab fishing is a lucrative $60-million industry. The majority of the profit is generated from November up to January. Therefore, this closure has already led to economic losses worth over $48 million to the commercial crab industry.
Don Marshall, a local fisherman, is finding hard time to cope up. By this time, he could have earned $140,000 by peddling Dungeness crabs. Marshall took up extra job so to make both ends meet. He stated, “I worked at a Christmas tree lot for three weeks right before Christmas. When that was done I was kind of thinking crab season would open. Then a few weeks went by and I’ve been doing construction work.”
To cushion the impact of the closure, there is an initiative that would make fishermen qualified for relief funds. Brown administration sent a letter to the US secretary of Commerce requesting for a federal disaster declaration, a few weeks ago. But before affirming the disaster, an investigation is needed to determine the extent of losses. A team from the National Marine Fisheries Services (NOAA Fisheries) is tasked to undertake the investigation. Still, a recommendation will be sent to the secretary of Commerce, until the final decision is not made, the fishermen will continue to suffer.