California crab ban reveals Pacific Ocean under assault

High levels of domoic acid, a neurotoxin harmful to humans and other animals, have been found in Dungeness crabs along the California coastline. The toxin is produced by algae, which are thriving in warmer ocean temperatures.

As a result, for the first time in memory the California Fish and Game Commission this week delayed the recreational Dungeness crab season that was scheduled to begin a week ago for the area stretching from Southern California’s Ventura County to the Oregon state line. The state has also suspended the rock crab harvest, which is normally allowed year round…

Consumers might be annoyed that a favorite seafood will be more scarce, and those who make their living from it are rightly worried about a major financial loss. California’s crabbing industry brings in around $60 million a year for harvesters alone, and the revenues amount to much more when counting the grocery stores and restaurants who sell the catch.

An even more dire concern may be that the contamination of crabs points to the Pacific Ocean facing problems of a magnitude never seen before.

Persistent warm-water conditions along the U.S. West Coast have contributed to the largest toxic algae bloom ever recorded. One type of algae — Pseudo-nitzschia — has poisoned much of the food web, and is drastically affecting marine ecosystems along the West Coast. One sign of that is that sea lions suffering from seizures caused by domoic acid have been washing up on California beaches…

The persistently warm water and poisonous algae have prompted seafood harvest bans up and down the Pacific Coast, affecting California, Oregon and Washington…

This ain’t a tempest in a teapot, folks. Populist nutballs and other flavors of science-haters may find safe haven in politics. Economics, jobs, food safety are all quite another critical batch of questions.

4 thoughts on “California crab ban reveals Pacific Ocean under assault

  1. keaneo says:

    One of the simplest, most reliable validations on climate change is the insurance trade. Actuaries aren’t employed to be wrong on futures. Political hacks, conservative pundits can get it wrong every day. The fools who are True Believers will follow them like populist lemmings.

    • Cassandra says:

      For the first time in history, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has canceled snow crab season due to the dwindling numbers of crabs available. This decision follows a report released in August that showed that snow crab abundance in Alaska is on a steep decline, with stocks down 90 percent in the last two years. Researchers have yet to come up with a cause for this decline, but they have already agreed—climate change is a main factor.
      Snow crabs are the second of Alaska’s three major crab stocks to collapse, the remaining available stock being the bairdi crab. In 2021, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game canceled the king crab harvest for the first time since the 1990s and it remains closed for the upcoming season.

  2. Pescadero says:

    Norway’s Supreme Court will on Tuesday hear arguments on whether EU ships can fish for snow crab off the Arctic islands north of Norway, in a case that could decide who has the right to explore for oil and minerals in the region.
    At stake is whether EU vessels have the right to catch snow crab, whose meat is considered a delicacy by gourmets in Japan and South Korea, in the same way than Norwegian vessels do.
    A Latvian fisheries company applied to the non-EU country in 2019 for a fishing license to catch the species, but was turned down on the basis that only Norwegian vessels can.
    The Latvian firm will argue on Tuesday that it also can under the 1920 Svalbard Treaty, which grants Norway sovereignty over the Arctic islands with the condition that other signatories have access to their territorial waters.
    Tuesday’s case has far-reaching implications, according to Oeystein Jensen, a professor at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute in Oslo.
    “If the Supreme Court thinks the Svalbard treaty applies, it is not only about snow crab, it will be about oil, gas, minerals and fish,” he told Reuters. “It is everything or nothing.”
    In a sign of the importance the case has for Norway, 15 Supreme Court judges are expected to hear arguments during the four-day session. Most other cases are decided by a panel of just five.
    In 2019 the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that EU fishermen must ask permission from Oslo to catch snow crab, after the same Latvian fisheries company had tried to fish off Svalbard with only an EU license.

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