PORT TOWNSEND -- The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has
reserved 20 Puget Sound near-shore areas for recreational Dungeness crab fishers.
Six of the areas allow limited non-Indian commercial Dungeness crab fishing
while the remaining 14 areas are closed to commercial crabbing.
The restrictive zones were created at the commission's meeting here last
Saturday to reserve crab fishing opportunities to recreational fishers following a federal
court decision (U.S. v Washington) which has greatly increased the tribal share of the
Puget Sound Dungeness crab harvest.
"Puget Sound Dungeness crabs will be under greater commercial pressure as
the tribes exercise treaty rights to harvest more shellfish. This commission action will
ensure recreational crabbers have more fishing opportunities in near-shore waters with
easy access. The reserved areas also will serve as nurseries for crab production in the
sound," said Bern Shanks, director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Recreational and commercial crabbers serving on the department's Dungeness
Crab Advisory Committee assisted in developing the Puget Sound Dungeness Crab
Harvest Management Plan which created the reserves.
The reserves are located in Birch, Chuckanut, Samish, Fidalgo, Mud, Fisherman,
Blind, Deer Harbor, Westcott, Garrison, Utsalady, Useless and Dungeness bays and in
the Port Townsend, Possession Point, Langley, Port Gardner and Everett areas. The
remaining three reserves are located from Kingston south to the Tacoma Narrows.
Specific boundaries of the recreational crabbing reserve areas will be found in
the 1997-98 Fishing in Washington regulation pamphlet which will be available at
WDFW offices and license dealers in April.
The recreational reserves are generally delineated in the North Puget Sound, Central Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca area maps.