WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

August 31, 2004
Contact: Fish Program, (360) 902-2700

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Strong sport catches lead to early closures of crab seasons in Hood Canal, Puget Sound areas

OLYMPIA - Annual recreational crab-fishing quotas have been met for Hood Canal and much of Puget Sound, leading to a Sept. 3 closure for the popular fisheries in these areas, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

The Sept. 3 closures are for all crab species using any harvest method. The areas set to close are marine areas 6, 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10, 11, 12 and marine sub-Area 7-South. The closures begin at 7 p.m., and the next regularly scheduled recreational fisheries in these areas will begin next spring or summer, once the shellfish have gone through their annual molt.

Phone surveys of nearly 9,000 license holders were conducted to generate the in-season catch estimates that prompted the early season closures. Recreational harvest has reached, or will soon exceed, the recreational crab allocations for the affected areas.

Areas that will remain open to recreational crab fishing include the Washington coast (marine areas 1-3), the western Strait of Juan de Fuca (marine areas 4-5), waters north of the San Juan Islands (Marine sub-Area 7-North), Bellingham and Samish bays (Marine sub-Area 7-East) and waters south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (Marine Area 13). These areas will also close to recreational crab fishing once allocations have been met.

More information is available on WDFW's shellfish rule change hotline, at 1-866-880-5431, or online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crabreg/ on the Internet.