OLYMPIA – All waters of Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca still open for recreational crab fishing will close until further notice on April 15 at 6 p.m., the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.
The closure applies to all crab species and all methods of crab fishing, including crab pots, ring gear and star traps, as well as wade and dive fishing.
Morris Barker, WDFW marine resources manager, said the closure is necessary to protect crab during the molting season when they are in soft-shelled condition. By mid-April, Dungeness crab in most areas of Puget Sound have soft shells, although the molt begins earlier in Hood Canal and a number of other areas where crab fishing has been closed for a month or more.
"Crab fishing has been good this year, with record-high catches in Hood Canal, central Puget Sound and northern Puget Sound," Barker said. "By protecting the crab now, when they're most vulnerable, we can help sustain the resource in future years."
Barker said crab in the Everett area, where fishing has been closed since mid-January, are now beginning to harden and should be available for harvest by mid- to late April. Recreational openings in that and other areas will be announced by WDFW in the weeks and months ahead, Barker said.
Waters affected by the April 15 closure include the Strait of Juan de Fuca (Marine Areas 4, 5 and 6), those waters not yet closed north of the San Juan Islands (Area 7), and southern Puget Sound from Olympia to the northern tip of Vashon Island (Areas 11 and 13).
Crab fishing in two other areas – Marine Area 10 in central Puget Sound and the portion of Marine Area 7 near Anacortes – will close April 6 at 12:01 a.m., as already announced by WDFW. Other areas have been closed for several weeks.
For details on upcoming fishing seasons and regulations, Barker recommends that fishers check the WDFW toll-free shellfish hotline at (866) 880-5431 or the fishing section of the WDFW webpage.