THE QUESTION POPS up once or twice a year from readers and came into my email inbox again this week: is it safe to eat Dungeness crab caught in Port Angeles Harbor?
Short answer, yes. Longer answer is yes, but in moderation.
Using data compiled from 2002-2012, much of it taken from the waters near the former Rayonier Mill site, the state Department of Health issued a series of guidelines in 2015 for those eating seafood from the harbor.
• Do not eat more than four servings of crab meat per month from Port Angeles Harbor. An adult-size serving is defined as eight ounces of uncooked meat.
• Do not eat any crab butter (guts) harvested from Port Angeles Harbor.
• Do not eat or harvest shellfish (oysters, mussels, clams and scallops) from Port Angeles Harbor. This area is permanently closed to shellfish harvesting by the state Department of Health due to sanitary conditions.
The study found that consuming Dungeness crab meat or crab butter from Port Angeles Harbor at a state resident seafood consumption rate (1.85 ounces a day) could significantly increase the risk of cancer over a lifetime.
The Department of Health also said eating more than four meals a month from seafood harvested from Port Angeles Harbor could increase a person’s risk of developing non-cancer health problems — including intestinal distress from ingesting copper and immune-system disorders from PCBs — from these persistent chemicals found in the harbor.
So there’s risk, but the reward of a delicious crab dinner every now and again? That’s tough to beat.
PT Bay cleaned out
Recreational crabbers in the bay off Port Townsend may want to find another stretch of salt water for the time being.
Quilcene’s Ward Norden, a former fisheries biologist and owner of Snapper Tackle Company, said the commercial crabbers set up shop in a major way earlier this week.
“Of real interest is the commercial crabbers who had their opening around Port Townsend in the last 36 hours and the bay has literally been stripped of crab,” Norden said. [Tuesday] afternoon I saw six refrigerated 18-wheelers at the Boat Haven ready to receive the crab and a catcher processor on the bay. While riding the 8 a.m. ferry [Wednesday], the bay was a sea of commercial crab floats.
“That afternoon there were still hundreds of commercial floats across the bay. I cannot recommend crabbing anywhere around Port Townsend for the rest of the season.”
“… Nothing new here I guess, but boaters can at least save a little gas.”
Marine Area 9 hot
Salmon fishing opened with good catch numbers Monday in Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet).
Creel reports at the Port Townsend Boat Haven Ramp produced a 0.61 fish/per angler average with 84 chinook landed by 138 anglers in 66 interviews conducted by state fish checkers.
Everett’s Public Ramp also produced a 0.60 fish/per angler average with 194 chinook brought in by 323 anglers in 141 interviews.
“Salmon fishing around Port Townsend has been consistent and pretty good for chinook, which are mostly blackmouth with only a scattering of [true] kings since most of the king run already went through a week or two before the opening,” Norden said.
Silver Horde’s Green/Glow Needlefish Ace Hi Fly with a glow green insert has been a productive lure as have the usual Herring Aid Coho Killer spoons (glow UV).
Not puffin’ around
A chilhood memory, a no smoking sign affixed to a metal filing cabinent featuring a crossed-out puffin puffing on a cigarette, was a staple of my dad’s work offices.
Tufted puffins became my favorite part of trips to the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and the Seattle Aquarium, a visit not complete without some closeup time with the squat, black, white and orange set.
Zoos and aquariums may become the last refuges for tufted puffins in the Pacific Northwest as populations of the birds are shrinking at an alarming rate in this area according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
A recent Seattle Times article looked at the bleak picture for tufted puffins as state population totals are estimated to have dipped from 25,000 in 1984 to as low as 3,000 birds in 2009.
“Change in fish populations, via natural variances or human overfishing, is the most likely reason for the decline in puffins and other seabirds with similar life cycles, scientists believe. Malnourished young puffins are often found on Northwest beaches.
The birds, the Washington study concluded, “are likely to continue declining in Washington,” and could essentially disappear from Northwest shores and waters within a few decades.”
But before conditions become that bleak for the birds, there is a chance to potentially see them living their colony lifestyles at Protection Island, via twoPuffin Sunset Marine Cruises around Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge set for today and Saturday.
The cruises by the Dungeness River Audubon Center cost $70 for audubon members and $80 for nonmembers.
Reservations can be placed by calling 360-681-4076 or emailing [email protected] The two-hour cruises depart at 6:30 p.m. from John Wayne Marina, 2577 W. Sequim Bay Road. Each cruise is limited to 55 people.
The 65-foot vessel Glacier Spirit will travel around the island as a narrated program is presented about marine bird life and marine mammals found between the marina and wildlife refuge.
Birds including — but not limited to — tufted puffins and rhinoceros auklets are expected to be seen on the tour, event organizers said.
Included is a dessert.
Attendees are requested to dress casual and bring a warm jacket.
Proceeds will benefit the education programs of the audubon center and Railroad Bridge Park.
For more information, visit www.dungenessrivercenter.org.