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Letter to Puget Sound Commercial Crab Fishers and Crab Dealers

September 29, 2014

Dear Puget Sound Commercial Crab Fishers and Dealers:

This letter is to inform you of regulation changes for the 2014-15 commercial Dungeness crab season, which begins at 8:00 a.m. on October 1, 2014.  It is your responsibility as the Puget Sound Dungeness Crab license owner or wholesale dealer to communicate this important information to the alternate operators and buyers who work for you.  The current permanent fishing rules and provisions and the emergency (temporary) rules are included in this season’s commercial packet.  The emergency rules replace specific sections of the permanent rules. Both permanent and emergency rules must be read together for a complete understanding of the 2014-15 season regulations.  For example, if the permanent rules indicate an area opens on November 1 and the emergency rules list October 15 as the opening date, the area will open on October 15. 

As a reminder, last year there was a change to the RCW’s outlining the number of permits that can be stacked on a single vessel.  RCW 77-65-100 and RCW 77-65-130 were amended to allow the stacking of up to three licenses on a single designated vessel.

Please review the regulatory provisions and the following information carefully before fishing and feel free to contact an agency employee at the numbers listed below if you have questions.

The following regulations will be implemented this season:

Initial crabbing period and regional crab pot limits

The Puget Sound Commercial Crab Fishery will open at 8:00 AM October 1st, 2014.

Effective 8:00 a.m. October 1, 2014, until further notice, it is unlawful for any person to fish for crabs for commercial purposes with more than 50 pots per license per buoy tag number in Crab Management Regions 1 (Catch Reporting Areas 20A, 20B, 21A, 21B, 22A, and 22B), 2 East (Catch Reporting Areas 24A, 24B, 24C, 24D, and 26A-E), and 2 West (Catch Reporting Areas 25B, 25D, and 26A-W). 

The remaining buoy tags per license per region must be onboard the designated vessel and available for inspection in Crab Management Areas 1, 2 East, and 2 West.

Effective 8:00 a.m. October 1, 2014, until further notice, it is unlawful for any person to fish for crabs for commercial purposes with more than 100 pots per license per buoy tag number in Crab Management Regions 3-1 (Catch Reporting Areas 23A and 23B), 3-2 (Catch Areas 25A, 25E, and 23D), and 3-3 (Catch Reporting Areas 23C and 29).

Please see the enclosed map of region and catch area boundaries.  Any in-season changes to regional pot limits and information about reopening regions for commercial crabbing will be announced on the website at: phone hotline is being discontinued and will no longer be available. 

Questions may be directed to Don Rothaus at (425) 775-1311 x 126, Don Velasquez at (425) 775-1311 x112, or Rich Childers at
(360) 302-3030 x303.

Crab pot barging

Setting crab pot gear from a vessel not designated on a crab license (“barging”) will be allowed from 8:00 a.m. on October 1, 2014 until 7:00 p.m. on October 2, 2014 provided that the operator or alternate operator designated on the license is on board the non-designated vessel and prior notice is given to WDFW.  The license owner must leave a telephone message at the Mill Creek Regional office, (425) 775-1311 ext 126 or by email to with the following information:

a) Name and license number of license owner.
b) Name of designated primary operator if different from license owner.
c) Name of alternate operator if used to deploy pots from a non-designated vessel.
d) Buoy brand number and number of pots to be deployed from a non-designated vessel.
e) Name and identification numbers (WN and/or Coast Guard) of the non-designated vessel.

Non-commercial and Limited-commercial Areas

Dungeness Bay Non-commercial Area:
The State commercial crab fishery is closed in that portion of Marine Fish/Shellfish Catch Area 25A  west of the 123o 7.0’ longitude line projected south from the New Dungeness light to the southern shore of Dungeness Bay (See WAC 220-52-04600A).   

Port Angeles Harbor Non-commercial Area:
That portion of Marine Fish/Shellfish Catch Area 23D west of a line from the eastern tip of Ediz Hook to the ITT Rayonier Dock (Port Angeles Harbor) will be closed to commercial crab harvest this season (See WAC 220-52-04600A) based on recommendations from the Clallam County Department of Health and Human Services.

Commercial crab fishing will be open at 8:00 a.m. October 1, 2014, in the following areas until further notice.  See WAC 220-52-04600A and enclosed maps, for a complete description of area boundaries.

Outer Birch Bay Limited-Commercial Area:
Those waters of Marine Fish-Shellfish Management and Catch Reporting Area 20A between a line from the boat ramp at the western boundary of Birch Bay State Park to the western point of the entrance of the Birch Bay Marina and a line from the same boat ramp to Birch Point.

Useless Bay Limited-Commercial Area:
Those waters of Marine Fish-Shellfish Management and Catch Reporting Area 26A-W in Useless Bay north and east of a line from the south end of the Double Bluff State Park seawall (47°58.782'N, 122°30.840'W) projected 110 degrees true to the boulder on shore (47°57.690'N, 122°26.742'W).

Fidalgo Bay Limited-Commercial Area:
Those waters of Marine Fish-Shellfish Management and Catch Reporting Area 22B in Fidalgo Bay south of a line projected from the red number 4 entrance buoy at Cap Sante Marina to the northern end of the eastern most oil dock.

Deer Harbor Limited-Commercial Area:
Those waters of Marine Fish-Shellfish Management and Catch Reporting Area 22A in Deer Harbor north of a line projected from Steep Point to Pole Pass.

The permanent regulation regarding all other non-commercial and limited-commercial areas not listed above is found in WAC 220-52-046, which is enclosed in this mailing.

Maps showing approximate non-commercial and limited-commercial zone boundaries and descriptions of these areas are enclosed for your convenience.  Note that the state commercial fishery is closed in areas designated on the maps as “Special Management Areas”.

Buoy Tags
Similar to last year buoy tags are being issued as a one year tag. The permanent regulations addressing the use of buoy tags are included with this letter (WAC 220-52-040, WAC 220-52-043) and the following process will again be used for obtaining replacement tags:

  • Additional tags to replace lost tags will only be issued to the owners or operators of Puget Sound commercial crab fishery licenses.  There is a $1.25 charge for each replacement tag.  The charge per fisher, for replacement tags needed during the 2014-15 season, will be billed to those fishers when they purchase tags for the 2015-16 season. 
  • To obtain replacement tags, the owner must complete and sign a declaration form in the presence of a designated agency employee, stating the number of pots/buoy tags lost, the location and date where the pot gear or tags were last observed, and the presumed cause of loss.  Replacement tags can only be obtained in person at the following designated locations and from the following agency staff:

Replacement Tag contacts:

Mill Creek Regional Office 
16018 Mill Creek Blvd.
Mill Creek, WA
 - Don Rothaus (425) 775-1311 x126
 - Don Velasquez  (425) 775-1311 x112  
 - George Peterson  (425) 775-1311 x119
LaConner District Office
111 Sherman St.
LaConner, WA
 - Mark O’Toole (360) 466-4345 x241
Port Townsend Office 
375 Hudson St .
Port Townsend, WA  98368
 - Rich Childers (360) 302-3030 x303
 - Doug Rogers (360) 302-3030 x311
License Division
Natural Resources Building
1111 Washington St. SE
Olympia, WA 98501
 - Commercial Licenses (360) 902-2464
Bellingham District Office
Suite 20 Harbor Mall
Bellingham, WA
 - Steve Axtell (360) 676-2146

To ensure that appropriate staff will be on site to distribute replacement tags, please contact designated staff at the office where you plan to obtain replacement tags to schedule an appointment.  Declaration forms will be available at the time of receiving replacement tags.

The following regulations for crab buyers will be implemented again this season:

  • At the request of the crab industry, we are requiring daily reports by crab buyers during the 2014-15 season to improve our ability to monitor the state commercial harvest in each region. You must report daily purchases of Puget Sound crab harvested by non-treaty fishers by 10:00 a.m. the following business day.  For more details, see permanent WAC 220-69-240.   Reports must be made by fax or e-mail.
  • The reports must be made to the Mill Creek Regional Office by facsimile at 425-338-1066 (See WAC 220-69-24000J) or by e-mail to  For your convenience an optional FAX reporting form has been included in this mailer.  An electronic version of this form is available on request to the crabreport e-mail address. Fax and E-mail reports must specify the dealer name, dealer phone number, date of delivery of crabs to the original receiver, and the total number of pounds of crab caught by non-treaty fishers by Crab Management Region or Marine Fish/Shellfish Catch Area.  The fish receiving ticket-reporting requirement of WAC 220-69-240 remains in effect.
  • Dealers/BUYERS can no longer LEAVE VOICE MESSAGES FOR catch reports.
  • According to WAC 220-69-240, it is unlawful for any original receiver of crab to fail to record all crab aboard the vessel making the delivery to the original receiver.  The poundage of any crab deemed to be unmarketable, discards, or weigh backs must be shown on the fish receiving ticket, but a zero dollar value may be entered for such crab.

Complete regulations and landings information that pertain to the 2014-15 Puget Sound commercial crab fishery can be found on the WDFW web site.

WDFW web site for the commercial crab fishery:

Please note that this is the fifth year that this material will NOT be printed out in hardcopy and mailed out to everyone.   In the interest of conducting more efficient business practices, the former “mailer” is now posted in the WDFW website’s commercial section.  This section will continue to be updated with in-season harvest numbers, detailed color charts for special zones, and current emergency regulations.  If you need a printed copy of this pre-season information packet please call 425-775-1311 ext 126 with your request and be sure to leave your name and mailing address.   

Have a safe and productive season.


Don Rothaus,
Puget Sound Shellfish Biologist, (425) 775-1311 ext 126
Mill Creek

Don Velasquez,
Puget Sound Shellfish Biologist, (425) 775-1311 ext 112
Mill Creek

cc:       Rich Childers, Puget Sound Shellfish Manager
            WDFW Enforcement

See also: