A crab fishing boat sits in the harbor along Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, Calif. Wednesday, March 9, 2016. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

A crab fishing boat sits in the harbor along Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, Calif. Wednesday, March 9, 2016. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

Dungeness crab fishermen set to return to waters this weekend

Dungeness crab fishermen in the Bay Area plan to return to the waters this weekend for the first time this year after waiting out stormy weather and a days-long strike over crab prices.

“As soon as the weather comes down, they’re going to go [back out],” Larry Collins, president of the San Francisco Crab Boat Owners Association, said of the some 150 commercial Dungeness crab fishermen in San Francisco, Half Moon Bay and Bodega Bay, who have “tied up” at the docks since Dec. 30.

That means the popular local crustacean will return to grocery stores and restaurants by next week, Collins said.

“The crab season has been absolutely fantastic this year,” he said. “The crabs are so delicious.” He added, “The boats will go out and we’ll have a bunch of crab on the market.”

Crab fishermen, including in the Humboldt Fishermen’s Marketing Association, went on strike at the end of the year over the wholesale price per pound of Dungeness crab in Northern California. The strike ended Friday after the parties involved agreed on a price of $2.875 per pound.

Also good news for crab fishermen was the lifting of a final health advisory Wednesday by state health officials after recent tests showed that traces of domoic acid, a naturally occurring toxin, have dropped to low or undetectable levels, meaning they are safe to consume.

That means all of the crustaceans caught along the California coast are safe to eat.

The final health advisory lifted was for Dungeness crabs caught between the Ten Mile River, north of Fort Bragg, and Shelter Cove.

Domoic acid in seafood occurs naturally and is related to a “bloom” of a single-cell plant, though it is impossible to predict what conditions help the plant grow. Symptoms of domoic acid poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache and dizziness.

High levels of domoic acid in crabs delayed the opening of the 2015-16 season in California for the first time in recent memory.

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