Crabbing closure hits hard for southwest Oregon business

The Crab Shack in Charleston, Nov. 3, 2017. (SBG)

CHARLESTON, Ore. -- A spike in domoic acid levels has extended recreational and commercial bay crabbing closures along the south coast.

The closure is from the north jetty of Coos Bay to the California border.

The closure is hitting Jack Kirk hard. He owns the restaurant Captain Jack's Crab Shack and has been a commercial fisherman for 15 years.

"It hurts me both ways,” he explained, “One, I don't have crab to sell to the public and two, I cook and clean crabs here."

Ever since he bought the Crab Shack two years ago, Kirk says the business has been plagued with seasonal crabbing closures.

"Being the Crab Shack, it puts a bind on us, you know. We don't have crab; now it's just a shack.”

Kirk plans to weather the storm by serving fish and the small amount of crabs he has left.

The commercial crabbing season is expected to open next month.

“We all hope for that so much because this community relies on that opener,” Kirk said, “If we don't open in December, there's no Christmas for these folks and this would be two years in a row with no Christmas. I was one of the ‘no Christmas’ folks last year and we're sure hoping that this year is a little different."

ODA officials say they will continue to test for toxins and will remove the advisory after two consecutive tests in the safe range, which will put crabbers back to work and the crab back in the Crab Shack.

Despite the closure, state officials say crab and shellfish products sold in restaurants and stores are still safe for consumers.

You can find updates on closures on the state's shellfish closure website, or call (800) 448-2474.

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