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February 10, 1997
Contact: Jeff Weathersby, (360) 902-2256

Reserves created for recreational Dungeness crab fishers

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.