OLYMPIA - The last areas of Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca open to recreational crab fishing will close for the season at 4 p.m. Dec. 14, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.
A recent assessment of the crab catch indicates that recreational crabbers will meet or exceed their quota by that date in the Strait of Juan de Fuca (Crustacean Management Region 3) and central Puget Sound (Crustacean Management Region 4), said Rich Childers, WDFW shellfish biologist.
Other areas of Puget Sound have been closed to recreational crabbing since mid-October, or earlier in some areas, Childers said.
"We had a lot of people out crabbing this year and the catch rates were high," Childers said. "While the quota didn't go as fast as in some other areas of Puget Sound, there were still a lot of crab pots in the water in the Strait and central Puget Sound."
This year's recreational quota was 113,000 pounds in the Strait and 58,620 pounds in central Puget Sound. A survey of catch record cardholders conducted by WDFW in November confirmed high catch rates in both areas, Childers said.
The next scheduled recreational crab seasons will occur in the spring of 2004, after the shellfish have completed their annual molting cycle.