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Oregonians who fish recreationally cannot take home starfish

March 22, 2022 GMT

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon residents who fish recreationally are now prohibited from taking home sea stars, otherwise known as starfish.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission administrative rule went into effect Friday, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

Sea stars have struggled for survival along the Pacific Coast since a die-off in 2013 because of “sea star wasting syndrome.” The disease causes sea stars to develop lesions, then their limbs break off, and their bodies disintegrate.

Commercial sea star harvesting in Oregon was banned in 2014. Recreationalists were previously allowed to harvest up to 10 marine invertebrates, including shellfish and sea stars.

Recreational fishers can sometimes catch sea stars accidentally. In a news release, commissioners say intentional or accidental sea star harvesting doesn’t happen often and likely doesn’t significantly threaten their populations.

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Researchers still don’t fully understand what causes sea star wasting syndrome.

At the same meeting, the commission also voted to increase the number of invasive European green crabs that people can catch. Green crabs have colonized the Pacific Coast because of warmer temperatures.

Green crabs were previously included in the 10-bag limit for catching marine invertebrates, but given their invasiveness, commissioners voted to increase the bag limit specifically for green crabs to 35.