Proving that some parts of living in Sonoma County are still normal, the local Dungeness crab recreational season opened on time this past weekend with the usual hordes of boaters, trappers, campers and kayakers. With the aftermath of the wild fires still occupying thousands of local residents there was some cause for celebrations as the prized crustaceans were off-loaded to waiting boiling pots and side dishes of fresh sourdough, cocktail sauce and (usually) cold beer.

While several of the county’s parks remained closed due to recent fire damage, Doran Beach and the Bodega Bay Westside Park drew overflow traffic at boat ramps and RV campsites. Mild weather and seasonal winds permitted a safe opening weekend, although local Coast Guard crews, Fish and Game officers and Bodega Bay volunteer firemen all stood at the ready.

California Department Public Health issued a health advisory to crabbers not to eat the viscera (guts and innards) of the Dungeness crabs due to lingering concerns about domoic acid, the ocean parasite that closed California’s crab season for almost the entire 2016 season, wreaking millions of dollars in losses to the local commercial crab fleet.

At present, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reporting this year’s commercial crab season is scheduled to open on time from Sonoma County southward on Nov. 15, raising hopes for Thanksgiving Day crab. Public health officials will continue to monitor the levels of domoic acid as the local crabbing fleet continues boat and trap preparations.

The recreation crab season along the Sonoma coast continues through June 30, 2018. Daily limits are 10 crabs at least 5.75 inches wide. A California sport fishing license is required.

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