California has been grappling with a crab crisis since the beginning of November. Early that month, the state's Department of Public Health warned residents, and shellfish enthusiasts preparing for annual pilgrimages, that local Dungeness crab needed to be avoided at all costs. The problem, you'll remember, was the crabs had turned deadly courtesy of the unseasonably warm waters, which caused an algae bloom and a high concentration of potentially deadly domoic acid in the crustaceans. Depression, shock, and outrage ensued, as the season was on the cusp of beginning before the unfortunate announcement.
Washington and Oregon followed suit later that month, dashing the hopes of crab lovers everywhere, though both states eventually opened up their seasons earlier this year. Now, four and a half months after the ban, California's Department of Fish and Wildlife has decided eating the crab will no longer possibly kill you, so it's reopening most of the fishery. Recreational fishers can start crabbing immediately, and, assuming there are any left, commercial fishers can get in on the action starting March 26 — as long as they're operating south of the Bay Area's Sonoma-Mendocino county line. Consumers, though, are still being warned to only eat the meat, no organs please, and not to reuse the cooking liquid. Still, as one clearly excited crab enthusiast tells the San Francisco Chronicle, "it's time to let the crab party begin.”