OLYMPIA – Four marine areas of Puget Sound will reopen to recreational crab fishing Nov. 1, based on summer catch assessments by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) that show more crab are available for harvest.
Starting Nov. 1 at sunrise, marine areas 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) and 12 (Hood Canal) will reopen for sport crabbing seven days a week through Jan. 2, 2009.
Crab fishing will also remain open seven days a week through Jan. 2 in marine areas 4 (Neah Bay), 5 (Sekiu), and 13 (south Puget Sound), where the fishery has continued uninterrupted since June 18.
Sport crabbing will not reopen this year in Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands), marine areas 8-1 and 8-2 east of Whidbey Island and Marine Area 11 (Tacoma/Vashon Island), where the summer catch reached the annual quota, said Rich Childers, WDFW shellfish policy coordinator.
“Our goal is to give crabbers as much opportunity to fish as possible, while remaining within the catch quotas,” Childers said. “Catch assessments for the summer season helped us determine which areas we could open for a late-season fishery.”
This is the second year that summer crab catch reports were required after Labor Day, with fall/winter reports due Jan. 2-15. The two-stage reporting system is designed to give fishery managers more accurate information about the recreational crab catch during the course of the season, Childers said.
Of the more than 210,000 crabbers licensed to fish for crab in Puget Sound, 70,378 complied with the September reporting requirement, including 43,919 who filed their catch reports on the reporting website. In calculating the catch-to-date, WDFW considered the direct reports from crabbers as well as phone surveys with 6,039 people who did not submit catch reports by the Sept. 15 deadline.
“The good news is that more people are complying overall, which has given us a lot more catch data to improve our estimates,” Childers said. “However, we need more crabbers to report their catch before we can eliminate the phone surveys entirely.”
Childers noted that all crabbers who submitted catch reports on time will be entered into a drawing for 10 free 2009 combination fishing licenses.
After Sept. 1, crabbers who fish for crab in Puget Sound should use their winter catch cards to record their catch, Childers said. These winter cards are valid until Jan. 2 and the late-season catch reports are due to WDFW by Jan. 15, 2009, after which another drawing will be held for free fishing licenses.
“It’s important that people submit their reports, even if they didn’t catch any crab,” he said. “A report showing no crab caught is just as important in calculating the catch as one that shows lots of crab caught.”
The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. In addition, fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. Additional information is available on the WDFW website at