San Mateo, CA – Congressmembers Jackie Speier (14th Congressional District), Jared Huffman (2nd Congressional District), Sam Farr (20th Congressional District), Lois Capps (24th Congressional District) and Mike Thompson (5th Congressional District) sent a letter to Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker urging her to expeditiously review and grant Governor Jerry Brown’s request to declare a fishery resource disaster in the California Dungeness crab and rock crab fisheries.

An unprecedented toxic bloom of marine algae called Pseudo-nitzchia australis containing the neurotoxin domoic acid has caused the closure of the commercial season that was scheduled to open in November 2015.

“The closures of the commercial Dungeness crab fishery and the partial closure of the rock crab fishery are causing severe economic hardship in California’s fishing communities,” the members wrote. “These fisheries are crucial to the coastal economy of central and northern California – last year, revenue from the sales of Dungeness crabs alone was estimated at just below $60 million.”

Even though the California Department of Public Health lifted the advisory in areas south of Point Reyes yesterday and the Department of Fish and Wildlife is considering opening the commercial season next week, the closure of the fisheries has already resulted in economic losses for stakeholders. According to the Governor’s estimates, the direct economic impact for the commercial closure is at least $48.3 million for Dungeness crab and $376.000 for rock crab.