OLYMPIA - Recreational crab fishing will close for a catch assessment in most areas of Puget Sound at sunset on Labor Day, with summer catch reports due by Oct. 10.
Seven areas of Puget Sound will close to crab fishing Sept. 6, including marine areas 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 8-1 (Deception Pass to East Point), 8-2 (East Point to Possession Point), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), 11 (Tacoma/Vashon) and 12 (Hood Canal).
Crabbing in all of those areas will be open the entire Labor Day weekend, Sept. 4-6.
All sport fishers licensed to fish for crab in Puget Sound must submit summer catch reports to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) by Oct. 10 - whether or not they caught crab this year.
Crabbers may submit catch record cards to WDFW by mail at CRC Unit, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091. They can also report their catch online at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/wdfw/puget_sound_crab_catch.html from Sept. 7 through Oct. 10.
Sport crabbers who continue to crab in areas of Puget Sound that remain open after Labor Day should record catches on their winter catch cards, said Rich Childers, shellfish policy lead for WDFW.
"This fishery is becoming more popular every year, which makes it more important than ever to track the catch as closely as possible," Childers said. "Catch reports by individual crabbers are a critical part of that effort."
Crabbers who fail to file their catch reports on time will face a $10 fine when they purchase a 2011 Puget Sound crab endorsement.
Childers noted that this year's reporting deadline has been extended by more than two weeks to give crabbers more time to file their reports. Those who meet the deadline will be entered in a drawing for one of 10 free 2011 combination fishing licenses, which allow the holder to fish for a variety of freshwater and saltwater species.
Areas of Puget Sound scheduled to remain open after Sept. 6 include:
- Marine areas 7S, 7E, and 7N (Bellingham-San Juan Islands), which are scheduled to remain open Wednesdays through Saturdays only, plus the entire Labor Day weekend, closing Sept. 30.
- Marine areas 4 and 5 in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and 13 in southern Puget Sound, which are scheduled to remain open seven days a week through Jan. 2.
For more information about recreational crabbing in Puget Sound, see WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/