The state has announced the immediate closure of recreational and commercial bay crabbing from Heceta Head, north of Florence on the Oregon Coast, south to the California border due to elevated levels of domoic acid.

The closure includes crab harvested in bays and estuaries, and off docks, piers, jetties and the ocean.

Crab harvesting from Heceta Head north to the Columbia River remains open, although it is recommended that crab always be eviscerated prior to cooking. Evisceration includes removal and discard of the internal organs and gills.

Despite the closure, crab and shellfish products sold in retail markets and restaurants remain safe for consumers.

Domoic acid or amnesic shellfish toxin can cause minor to severe illness and even death. Severe poisoning can result in dizziness, headaches, vomiting and diarrhea. More severe cases can result in memory loss and death.

Shellfish toxins are produced by algae and originate in the ocean. Toxins cannot be removed by cooking, freezing or any other treatment. The Oregon Department of Agriculture will continue to test for toxins in the coming weeks. Removal of the advisory requires two consecutive tests in the safe range.

For more information, call ODA’s shellfish safety information hotline at 800-448-2474 or visit the shellfish closures webpage at: http://1.usa.gov/1L4JyVm

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