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WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE     Print Version
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091


May 21, 2004
Contact: Rich Childers, (360) 586-1498, ext. 400

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Crab season scheduled to begin June 1, 2004 in many Puget Sound regions

OLYMPIA - Recreational crab fishing is scheduled to open June 1 in much of Puget Sound, according to biologists with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

For the first time since 2000, opening dates for recreational crab fisheries were established prior to the fishing season, following a multi-year effort to determine annual molt timing for each area of Puget Sound.

"Recent crab shell hardness testing has shown the molt is occurring as predicted in most areas, but crab fishers should be aware that opening dates could be delayed in certain areas if the molting process doesn't continue on schedule," said WDFW shellfish biologist Rich Childers.

"Our goal is to provide recreational crab fishers with a fixed opening day of the season. However, crab shell molting is driven by unpredictable natural processes that can vary from year to year," Childers said.

Another change in Puget Sound crab management this year is the addition of a $3 Puget Sound Dungeness crab endorsement fee. Funds will be used to support recreational fishery sampling and enhancement.

Childers said no other changes are expected for recreational crab fisheries this season. Bag limits and daily and weekly fishing schedules are expected to remain the same throughout the 2004-05 management period.

Areas scheduled to open to crab fishing June 1 include:

  • The western Strait of Juan de Fuca (marine areas 4 and 5)
  • Admiralty Inlet (Marine Area 9)
  • Hood Canal (Marine Area 12)
  • Central and southern Puget Sound (marine areas 10, 11 and13).

Waters "inside" Whidbey Island (marine areas 8-1 and 8-2) are scheduled to open Fridays through Mondays beginning June 4, while the extreme eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca and the southern portion of the San Juan Islands (Marine Area 6 and a portion of Marine Area 7) are expected to open June 16.

The remainder of the San Juan Islands and waters north of the islands will open later in the summer.

Details of all the scheduled opening dates and additional crab-fishing information can be found on page 130 of WDFW's 2004-05 "Fishing in Washington" sport fishing rules pamphlet.

Recreational crab fishing in each marine area will remain open until that individual area's quota has been reached. Childers said a dramatic increase in the sport catch of Dungeness crab has led to shorter fishing seasons in recent years.

The total recreational Dungeness crab catch for Puget Sound for the 1996-97 season was 806,000 pounds, compared to an estimated 1.6 million pounds in 2003-04.

All Puget Sound crab fishers 15 years of age or older must have an annual shellfish/seaweed license. A catch record card for recording Dungeness crab is required for all crab fishers, regardless of age.

The daily limit is six male Dungeness crab that measure at least 6 inches across. Crab fishing regulations are updated as necessary at /fishing/regulations on the Internet, or via the shellfish rule change hotline, at 1-866-880-5431.