The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) today announced summer crab-fishing seasons for Puget Sound, starting June 1 with an early opening in Marine Area 13 south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Most other areas of the Sound will open for recreational crab fishing July 3, although two areas around the San Juan Islands open later in summer to protect molting crab.
Seasons for the upcoming fishery are posted on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/.
Rich Childers, shellfish policy lead for WDFW, said recent test fisheries indicate that Dungeness crab remain abundant throughout Puget Sound.
“We continue to see healthy numbers of crab throughout the Sound,” Childers said. “With such strong numbers, crabbing should be good from opening day all the way through the end of the summer season.”
Childers said this year’s June 1 starting date for the crab fishery in Marine Area 13 will give crabbers an extra month to catch their quota in those waters.
“Sport crabbers in that area have fallen short of reaching their catch quota in recent years, so we can afford to give them more time to fish during the upcoming season,” Childers said.
Tests conducted in recent years have shown that crab in southern Puget Sound are in hard-shell condition by June 1, allowing for an earlier starting date for the season in that area, Childers said.
The daily limit for crab fishers throughout Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across.
This year’s summer crab season will be open on the following schedule:
• Marine areas 4 (Neah Bay east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 8-1 (Deception Pass to East Point), 8-2 (East Point to Possession Point), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), 11 (Tacoma/Vashon) and 12 (Hood Canal) – Opens July 3 through Sept. 1. Crabbing is allowed Thursdays through Mondays each week; closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
• Marine Area 7 South (San Juan Islands/Bellingham) – Opens July 17 through Sept. 29. Crabbing is allowed Thursdays through Mondays each week; closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
• Marine Area 7 North (Gulf of Georgia) – Opens Aug. 15 through Sept. 29. Crabbing is allowed Thursdays through Mondays each week; closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
• Marine Area 13 (south Puget Sound) – Opens June 1 through Sept. 1. Crabbing is allowed seven days per week.
Crab fishers may not set or pull shellfish gear from a vessel from one hour after official sunset to one hour before official sunrise. All shellfish gear must be removed from the water on closed days.
Childers reminds Puget Sound crabbers that they are required to record their harvest of Dungeness crab on their catch record cards immediately after retaining crab.
Separate catch record cards are issued for the summer and winter seasons.
“Having crab in your possession that are not properly recorded on a catch card is a violation and could result in a fine,” he said.
Catch record cards are not required to fish for Dungeness crab in the Columbia River or on the Washington coast (marine areas 1-4).
Additional information on the Puget Sound crab fishery is available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/.