OLYMPIA - Puget Sound marine areas currently open for recreational winter crabbing will close at 5 p.m. on Dec. 31, after which all sport crabbers licensed to fish for crab in the Sound will have until Feb. 1 to report their winter catch.
State fishing rules require that all sport crabbers with winter catch record cards submit catch reports for the winter season to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) by Feb. 1 - even if they did not keep any crab. With the end of the winter crab season on Dec. 31, all Puget Sound marine areas will be closed to recreational crabbing until summer 2014.
Sport crabbers should be aware that if they fail to submit a winter catch report, they will receive a $10 fine when they purchase their 2014 crab endorsement, said Rich Childers, WDFW shellfish policy lead.
"By submitting their catch data, crabbers play an important role in managing the Puget Sound crab fishery," Childers said. "We need to hear from everyone who was issued a winter catch card - including from those who didn't keep any crab."
To submit catch reports, crabbers may send their catch record card to WDFW by mail or file their report on a special webpage on the department's licensing website. The mailing address is WDFW CRC Unit, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091.
The online reporting system will be available Jan. 1-Feb. 1 at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/wdfw/puget_sound_crab_catch.html.