Use of Ocean Resources Changed as Dungeness Crab Fishing Industry Adapted to Climate Shock Event

An unprecedented marine heat wave that led to a massive harmful algal bloom and a lengthy closure of the West Coast Dungeness crab fishery significantly altered the use of ocean resources across seven California crab-fishing communities.

The delayed opening of the 2015-16 crab-fishing season followed the 2014-16 North Pacific marine heat wave and subsequent algal bloom. The bloom produced high levels of the biotoxin domoic acid, which can accumulate in crabs and render them hazardous for human consumption.

That event, which is considered a “climate shock” because of its severity and impact, tested the resilience of California’s fishing communities, researchers from Oregon State University, the University of Washington and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center found.

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