Back in November, the state banned the fishing of the crabs after tests showed high levels of domoic acid—a dangerous, potentially deadly neurotoxin—in the shellfish, caused by a particular algae. Now that those levels have gone down, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has OK'd crabbing south of the Sonoma-Mendocino county line starting this Saturday, meaning the crabs should be showing up on menus around the Bay as early as this weekend.
"We're very happy to be going back to work," Larry Collins, president of the Crab Boat Owners Association tells the San Francisco Chronicle. "We hope everybody gets their big pot of boiling salt water going. I hear they are big and hard and full of meat and beautiful looking and safe. It's time to let the crab party begin." Well, mostly safe. The state's health department has cautioned diners not to eat the guts of the crabs or to reuse the cooking liquid.
Because of the late start, the crab season will also be a short one this year. While it technically runs through June 30, many of the fishermen focus on salmon starting May 1, so those looking for Dungeness crabs will have to make the most of the next five weeks.