OLYMPIA – Two marine areas in 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 Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), and most of Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) will reopen for sport crabbing seven days a week through Jan. 2, 2010. The portion of Marine Area 9 south of a line from Foulweather Bluff to Olele Point will remain closed for the season.
Crab fishing also will 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 summer.
Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal), currently open Wednesdays through Saturdays, will close for the season at 6 p.m. Oct. 31.
Sport crabbing will not reopen this year in marine areas 6 (Strait of Juan de Fuca), 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1, 8-2 (east of Whidbey Island) and 11 (Tacoma/Vashon Island), where the summer catch reached the annual recreational quota, said Rich Childers, WDFW shellfish policy lead.
“We want to give crabbers as much opportunity to fish as possible, but with great weather this summer, we had a lot of people out crabbing and catch rates were high,” Childers said.
Of the more than 236,000 people that were issued Puget Sound crab licenses, 104,634 complied with the Sept. 21 reporting deadline. That includes 70,172 who filed their summer catch reports online.
“The data we receive is important for managing the Puget Sound crab fishery, which is why people are required to submit catch reports,” Childers said.
To increase compliance, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in 2008 approved a $10 fine for failure to file a catch report. Crabbers failing to submit their winter reports, due by Jan.15, will receive the fine when they apply for a 2010 Puget Sound crab endorsement.
State fishing rules require that all sport crabbers submit catch reports whether or not they went fishing or were successful in catching crab. Childers suggested that people who have winter catch cards, but do not intend to go crabbing, send in their catch cards now.
Catch record cards may be mailed to WDFW CRC Unit, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091. The online reporting system will be available Jan. 3-15 at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/wdfw/puget_sound_crab_catch.html.
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. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. For more information about recreational crabbing in Puget Sound, see WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crab.