Washington State House Democrats


LEGISLATIVE NEWS: House sends Chapman’s crab sanitary control bill to the Senate for the third time in a row

OLYMPIA—A measure to keep crab fishery from closing, thus ensuring crab meat availability, and a flowing economy along coastal communities, was passed by the House of Representatives on a unanimous vote earlier today.

House Bill 1010, sponsored by Rep. Mike Chapman, D-Port Angeles, allows the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) flexibility in regulating commercially harvested crab contaminated by domoic acid, a naturally occurring biotoxin that is harmful if consumed by humans.

“The good news is that domoic acid is not found in all crabs and when it is present, it does not affect the legs, so they are safe to eat,” said Chapman, who chairs the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. “By allowing crab legs to go to market, this important bill is supporting coastal communities, boosting the economy and ensuring a safe and reliable supply of crab meat for all.”

Chapman explained that currently, because the DOH is limited in how they can regulate crab, the presence of biotoxins results in closure of the fishery, delaying the coastal crab fishing season, which impacts local economies. Another concern is that delays risk postponing the crab harvest season until the spring when gray and humpback whales arrive, increasing risk of entanglements.

Chapman’s legislation solves the issue by granting the Washington DOH authority to create regulations governing commercially harvested crab in relation to biotoxin contamination.  It also authorizes the Washington State Board of Health to adopt rules regulating crab harvesting, tracking, and recalls by June 30, 2025.

The legislation is not new, Chapman pushed the bill last biennium, which passed the House with unanimous support in 2021 and 2022 only to stall in the Senate both times.

“We need this bill, so I hope the third time is the charm. As long as the DOH is unable to respond adequately, the industry will continue having to deal with roadblocks and that’s bad news for everybody involved in this process,” added Chapman.

Watch Rep. Chapman’s Floor remarks: