Locally caught Dungeness crab is headed for Bay Area tables soon, following the virtual shutdown of last year's crab season due to unsafe levels of the neurotoxin domoic acid. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife says the toxin is no longer a concern in most coastal waters, and recreational anglers can start catching Dungeness crab on Nov. 5 as scheduled.
State health officials say the meat is safe to consume, but they’ve issued a health warning against eating the internal organs of crab caught north of Point Reyes because of the possibility of continued concentrations of the toxin. The crab viscera -- the buttery greenish tissue inside the crab's body -- is considered a delicacy by some. However, testing is still turning up elevated levels of domoic acid in some crabs caught off the North Coast.
“The best way to reduce risk is to remove the crab viscera and rinse out the body cavity prior to cooking,” says Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Jordan Traverso. The other options, she says, is to boil or steam whole crab instead of frying or broiling, and then discard the cooking liquids.
The commercial season is scheduled to begin Nov. 15. But officials say they’re still waiting for the results of additional testing before giving the all clear.