OLYMPIA– Enforcement officers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) later this month will be confiscating unmarked or improperly constructed recreational crab gear in Marine Area 7 (North Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands).
More than 70 percent of the crab sport buoys recently checked in a survey by WDFW biologists in San Juan waters and in Birch, Bellingham and Fidalgo bays were constructed of improper materials, and 40 percent of the sport gear appeared to be inactive or abandoned.
Inactive and unbaited pots continue to attract crabs, posing a wastage problem. In addition, inactive pots are included in sport buoy count surveys, resulting in inflated catch estimates and inaccurate resource allocation.
Under regulations, crab sport buoys must be constructed of durable material, half red and half white in color, and be visible on the surface of the water. Each buoy must be permanently and legibly marked with the owner's first and last name and address.
For complete information on gear rules, fishers should consult WDFW's Fishing in Washington regulation pamphlet.