Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Crab saga continues.

New results are in for Eureka and Fort Bragg. Fort Bragg got worse, Eureka got better. Fort Bragg had been clean when everyone else was dirty but now they've got the funk, too. Come on guys, catch up. We all need to work together. Get depurating. For your look at the numbers, click here.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

There was a little striper action in the surf at first light. Gage would like everyone to know that he caught this 13 pounder on a black and silver Pencil Popper. Another fish was lost and there were two other missed strikes, all in the first five minutes of fishing. After that it was just boredom and bragging. OK, mostly bragging.

Friday, November 20, 2015

    Here's the newest numbers for the crab. The good news is that the numbers are dropping. Some places have numbers low enough to be opened up, but the whole state needs to be good before that will happen. The northern ports should have some test results in the next 3-4 days if the boats were able to get out. Bodega area is still too high but not by much. Apparently the crab are depurating well. (There, I used it in a sentence.)
    Not too much going on here except for rockfish when you can get out of the bay. By 10:00 AM yesterday we caught four limits of rockfish and two lings in 150 feet of water off of Bird Rock. It was a bit sloppy for us but the weather is supposed to be nice for the next couple of days.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

*UPDATE* The boat is found.

You may have heard about the rescues on Tomales Bay on Sunday. In two separate incidents people ended up in the water on a really rough day. The Fire Department and the National Park Service plucked the boaters out of the water but (probably wisely, considering the weather) chose not to tow in this boat. If know of this vessel's whereabouts, please email me at lawsonslanding@gmail.com and I'll get the info over to a grateful registered owner. And let's be more careful out there. The firemen are starting get tired of all this rescue stuff, especially now that the water is cooling off.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Answers for questions you may not have had

   Here's some answers to questions people have had about domoic acid. Hopefully this answers more questions than it generates.

Below are answers to the questions you posed a few days ago, along with two additional questions that have come up since and associated responses. These responses have been reviewed by California Department of Public Health (CDPH) staff. I hope these answers shed a little light on current information about and processes regarding domoic acid (DA) toxins in California commercial fisheries.


Carrie Culver
Aquatic Resources Specialist/Research Scientist
California Sea Grant
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego and
Marine Science Institute, UC Santa Barbara


Responses to Fishing Community Questions

1. Have there been any studies done on if the crab are kept in a closed system, how long it takes them to purge?
Yes, at least one study has been conducted and likely more will be forthcoming (proposal pending;  submitted by California Sea Grant Extension and UCSB, in collaboration with CDPH). For Dungeness crab in a laboratory setting, DA was depurated within 21 days if fed non DA–contaminated food (Lund et al. 1997).
2. How many crab do you actually have to eat to get sick?
This is a difficult question to answer, as it will depend on the levels of DA in the consumed crab, how it is prepared and what parts of the crab are consumed.  Clearly the highest risk of exposure is associated with consuming raw viscera, also known as crab butter, and even raw crab tissue if both contain high DA levels. The process of boiling crab in water reduces the concentration of DA by ~70% (67-71 %) in the crab (Hatfield, et al., 1995; Quilliam, 1991), but steaming, grilling, stir-frying and baking presumably retain higher DA levels as DA is not leached during these food preparation processes.
3. Once the crab are collected, what are the procedures for testing and how long does it really take? 
Crabs first need to be surrounded by gel packs when shipped overnight to the laboratory. Upon receipt the samples are prepared for analysis. This requires cooking the crab and then dissecting the various parts for testing. Crabs from different areas must be cooked separately so as not to cross-contaminate the samples. The viscera is extracted and tested first. If the viscera is above 70 ppm then the body tissue is tested. The preparation of the crab samples takes a ½ - 1 day, depending on the number of different areas the samples are coming from and the number of crabs per area. The laboratory analyses require HPLC techniques, which take approximately 45 minutes per sample. Samples are placed on an autosampler so analyses can be run after hours/overnight to increase throughput.
4. Is 6 crab per port considered a real scientific sample? Should there be more or less collected? Should they all be from the same pot?
This is the California’s standard sample size for testing levels of domoic acid in crabs which is consistent with the protocol used by Washington’s Department of Health and Department of Fish and Wildlife. They must balance the capacity of the lab to process samples with an adequate sample size. California Sea Grant, UCSB and the CDPH have submitted a proposal for obtain funds to better evaluate sample sizes for the different species. Sampling from one or more pots in an area may be better, although since they are moving in from all around it may not matter that much. Keeping samples separated, however, if they are from different locations (e.g., front vs. backside of island; coast vs. offshore) is critical.
5. Has CDPH ever tested spot prawn or any species of shrimp?
The Food and Drug Branch of CDPH is currently working with DFW to coordinate, via fishermen, the collection of spot prawns that will be harvested in areas North of Point Arguello including HMB/SF and Monterey areas. Upon the collection and testing of spot prawns, data on DA levels in this species will be available via the CDPH website. Other species routinely tested for DA include small finfish (anchovy, sardines), and bivalve shellfish (mussels, oysters) and limited data is available for DA levels in spiny lobsters.
6. Are there any other 'certified' labs that can run crab samples so that the FDBL isn't inundated with samples?
Not in CA. There are no labs in CA certified to perform the HPLC method for DA. A commercial lab with a chemistry program could likely spin up this method, but the data could not be used for regulatory purposes.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Here's my figures for the results. The average from two locations is 32.95 ppm. That sounds good, but one red crab had 240 ppm. The other five in the sample averaged 11.4 ppm. That's the crab (and ones like him) that's going to scare the regulators into waiting longer, and honestly, if they think we need longer, I'm OK with that that. Disappointment is preferable to disaster, and I don't think that they'll let someone get sick.

Friday, November 13, 2015

A little word on the crab. As I understand it, the crab will be tested every two weeks until the domoic acid levels reach a statewide average of 60 ppm or less. They will then test weekly until the statewide average is less than 30 ppm. A second test a week later that also averages less than 30 ppm will let them open the season for sportfishermen. Commercial will likely follow a week after. Please note the bold print on statewide. They're not going to open portions of the state that are clean. It is all or nothing. Washington state was closed for four months. It looks to me like the first set of tests gave them an average of 60.58 ppm or so, including reds with the Dungeness. The second set of tests about a month later had an average of 40.72 ppm. They're testing again next week and it will be very interesting to see what the average is. It looks like, best case scenario, maybe three weeks until crab time. Reality will probably be more like Christmas crab. That's if things go really well.
    Well, look at that. Fresh numbers after I just did math. Here's the new results. I'll math it tomorrow.