DFW lifts Commercial Spiny Lobster Fishery closure around Santa Cruz Island

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA — A closure of the commercial spiny lobster fishery near Santa Cruz Island was lifted just before the new year, it was announced.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham announced the re-opening of the fishery along the southeast side of Santa Cruz Island (east of 119°40’ W. longitude, west of 119° 30’ W and south of 34°00’ N. latitude).

State health agencies recommended the closure be lifted, according to DFW staff. Spiny lobster caught in the southeastern portion of Santa Cruz Island had previously been determined as health hazardous due to domoic acid exposure.

The closure went into effect Oct. 24, 2017, after the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) analyzed samples of spiny lobster from the affected area to be exposed to domoic acid.

Unhealthy domoic acid exposure was found in other areas of the Channel Islands – such as Anacapa Island – as well as portions of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

Spiny lobster fishery closures are still in effect on the northeast end of Santa Cruz Island (east of 119°40’ W. longitude, west of 119° 30’ W and north of 34°00’ N. latitude) and south of Anacapa Island (east of 119°30’ W, west of 119°20’ W, and south of 34°00’ N latitude).

Closures will remain in effect until the OEHHA director determines domoic acid levels at Anacapa and Santa Cruz islands no longer pose health threats.

“Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin produced by a naturally occurring marine alga, whose levels can be increased under certain ocean conditions,” DFW staff said in a released statement. “State and federal laws prohibit the commercial distribution of seafood products that contain domoic acid levels above the federal action level, which is 20 parts per million in the viscera of spiny lobster.”

Derek Stein photo

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