CORRECTION: The version of this news release sent on Thursday, Aug. 30 incorrectly stated crab fishing days for marine areas 7E and 7N. Crab fishing is scheduled to remain open in marine areas 7E and 7N (east and north of the San Juan Islands) Wednesdays through Saturdays. Please use this corrected version.
OLYMPIA – Recreational crab fishing will close for a catch assessment in eight areas of Puget Sound at sunset on Labor Day, after which everyone licensed to fish for crab in the Sound will have 12 days to report their summer’s catch.
Under regulations adopted earlier this year, licensed sport crabbers must submit the new summer catch reports to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) by Sept. 15, whether or not they fished or were successful in catching Dungeness crab.
To submit their catch reports, crabbers may either send WDFW their completed catch record cards by mail or file their catch totals on a special webpage on the department’s licensing website. Catch record cards may be mailed to WDFW CRC Unit, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091. The webpage, which is scheduled be available after Sept. 5. To access the reporting website go to http://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/wdfw/puget_sound_crab_catch.html.
Sport crabbers who file their catch reports by the deadline will be entered in a drawing for one of 10 free 2008 combination fishing licenses, which allow the holder to fish for a variety of freshwater and saltwater species.
Until this year, sport crabbers were required to submit only one catch report to WDFW, due after crab fishing closed in all areas of Puget Sound in January. The new summer catch report required this year is designed to give fishery managers more accurate information about the recreational crab catch during the course of the season, said Rich Childers, shellfish policy coordinator for WDFW.
“This fishery is becoming more popular every year, which makes it more important than ever that we track the catch closely throughout the season,” Childers said. “The new mid-season catch report will help us do that by providing a much clearer picture of the catch-to-date.”
Childers added that those new catch reports will help fishery managers determine how much crab may still be available for harvest in fall and winter fisheries under catch quotas for specific areas of Puget Sound.
Eight areas of Puget Sound will close to crab fishing Sept. 3 during a summer catch assessment, including marine areas 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 7 South (San Juan Islands), 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).
Meanwhile, crab fishing is scheduled to remain open in marine areas 7E and 7N (east and north of the San Juan Islands) Wednesdays through Saturdays each week through Sept. 29. Three other marine areas – 4 and 5 in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and 13 in southern Puget Sound – are scheduled to remain open seven days per week through Jan. 2.
Even if they continue to fish in an open area, all crabbers licensed to catch Dungeness crab in Puget Sound are required to submit their summer catch report by Sept. 15, Childers said.
“By submitting accurate catch reports, sport crabbers can play an important role in the management of the Puget Sound crab fishery,” Childers said. “It’s important that we hear from everyone – including those who haven’t caught crab so far this year – because that information is part of the equation.”
For more information about recreational crabbing in Puget Sound, see WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crab/index.htm.