WDFW re-opens crabbing in Willapa Bay and Point Chehalis southward after sampling indicates drop in marine toxins

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Dan Ayres, 360-470-3557; Jason Wettstein 360-704-0258

OLYMPIA – Effective immediately, recreational Dungeness crab fisheries on the Washington coast from areas south of Point Chehalis will reopen to crab fishing -- including the popular waters of Willapa Bay. Inside the Columbia River, inside Grays Harbor and coastal areas north to Cape Flattery also remain open for crabbing.

map of open crab areas April 15, 2021

Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) fishery managers are able to reopen these areas after testing showed domoic acid levels in crab met standards for safe consumption.

“We are hoping that the drop in marine toxin levels holds, and our recreational fishers will have plenty of opportunity to put some crabs in pots,” said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager.

Recreational crab fishing has been closed over recent months in many areas due to marine toxins. 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.

“WDFW, working closely with the Department of Health, will continue marine toxin sampling in all marine areas,” said Ayres.

Crabbing in marine areas east of the Tatoosh-Bonilla line; including that portion of MA 4 (Neah Bay) and all of MAs 5-13 in Puget Sound remain closed. At this time, razor clam digs throughout Washington also remain closed.

Harvesters can find up-to-date information on seasons and shellfish safety information on the Washington Shellfish Safety Map webpage. More information about domoic acid can be found on WDFW's domoic acid webpage.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife works to preserve, protect and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish, wildlife, and recreational and commercial opportunities. 

Individuals who need to receive this information in an alternative format, language, or who need reasonable accommodations to participate in WDFW-sponsored public meetings or other activities may contact the Title VI/ADA Compliance Coordinator by phone at 360-902-2349, TTY (711), or email (Title6@dfw.wa.gov). For more information, see https://wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/requests-accommodation.