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Dungeness Crab

Live Dungeness crabs in a seafood market.

Another year, another delay to the start of commercial crab season..

This year's commercial Dungeness crab season will be pushed forward a week to Nov. 22 in an effort to decrease the chances of whales currently off the coast getting ensnarled by fishing lines, according the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

California's famed Dungeness crab extravaganza has in recent years been a tale of great anticipation, felled hopes, occasional health warnings, season-opener delays and more. Last year, after a three-year spate of seasons put on hold, the commercial season got underway in mid-November, again marked by high hopes for the fisherman shoving off from Half Moon Bay.

By December of last year, however, this newspaper reported more disappointing news on the Dungeness front:

"This year was supposed to offer crab lovers relief after several frustrating winters of on-again-off-again crab catching along the California coast," said the report. "But while crab fishers are hauling up the tasty crustaceans along the Central Coast, an ongoing closure of the fishery north of Sonoma County has spiked prices and limited supply, leaving

Here's what we know about this year's delayed crab season:

The commercial season will start late

In a statement late Tuesday, CDFW Director Charlton Bonham said the 2019 commercial Dungeness crab fishery south of the Mendocino/Sonoma county line will be delayed from Nov. 15 until Nov. 22. Traps may be set and baited 18 hours in advance of the opening date.

The Recreational Season Is Off and Running

The recreational crab season, on the other hand, kicked off last Saturday, though it came with a warning from state health officials: don't eat any internal organs or guts of the crab caught in two coastal areas because of the possible the presence of domoic acid. This byproduct of algal blooms produces a naturally-occurring poison that could cause vomiting or diarrhea when eaten.

Be careful when you eat your catch

In a health advisory issued Tuesday, the California Department of Public Health advised recreational anglers not to consume the viscera (guts) of Dungeness crab caught from Shelter Cove in Humboldt County (40° 01.00' N. Lat.) south to Point Arena in Mendocino County (38° 57.50' N. Lat.) and from Point Reyes in Marin County (38 ° 00.00' N. Lat.) south to Pillar Point in San Mateo County (37° 30.00' N. Lat.)

Dungeness crab may be caught using hoop nets, crab traps, crab loop traps (crab snares) or skin and scuba divers may take them by the use of the hands only.

Be informed before heading out

The recreational fishery this season runs from Nov. 2 through July 30. The daily bag limit is 10 crab, and the minimum size limit is 5 3/4 inches. Recreational crabbing is not allowed from vessels licensed for commercial Dungeness crab fishing, according to the CDFW. Check out their website here for more detailed information about the recreational season, including a PDF showing how to measure a crab.

Get the latest updates

To check up on the latest information about in-season closures due to domoic acid, call the CDFW Domoic Acid Fishery Closure Information Line at (831) 649-2883. For more information concerning Dungeness crab season dates, consumption advisories related to domoic acid, and related information, please access one of the following sources:C all the CDFW Domoic Acid Fishery Closure Information Line at (831) 649-2883 for the latest status of the Dungeness crab season.

-- Call the CDPH Shellfish Biotoxin Information line at: (510) 412-4643 or toll-free at (800) 553-4133 for updated crab consumption advisories, or check CDFW's Finfish and Shellfish Health Advisories web page;

-- Sign up for the CDFW Marine Region News Service to receive the latest information about the recreational Dungeness crab season.

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