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February 27, 1997
Contact: Chuck Bolland, 360-902-2255

Commercial crab harvest restricted in northern and central sound

OLYMPIA -- Non-Indian commercial fishing for Dungeness crab will close in some areas of central Puget Sound on Monday while north Sound tribes have agreed to restrict Indian fishing in areas of the northern Sound.

Recreational crabbing rules remain unchanged.

The agreements, reached via a telephone conference, was reached to help bring into balance tribal and non-tribal harvests as required by the federal courts in U.S. vs Washington. The court on Dec. 20, 1994 decided tribes were entitled to the opportunity to take up to 50 percent of the harvestable Dungeness crab in their usual and accustomed fishing areas.

Without the commercial fishing changes, fish managers estimated non-tribal commercial fishers would harvest 58 percent of Dungeness crab by the April 15 season closure in central Puget Sound (Region 2). In northern Puget Sound (Region 1) tribal fishers would have harvested 54 percent of the crab without the agreement.

The non-Indian commercial closure in central Puget Sound will take effect at 6 p.m. Monday. At that time all crabbing gear needs to be out of the water.

The tribes agreed, as of 6 p.m. Monday, to confine their North Sound commercial fishery to an area inside and east of a line from Cherry Point, south to the separation buoy located southeast of Alden Bank. The defined area then continues southeast to Vendovi Island, north to Carter Point and north to Point Francis and then along the coast line back to Cherry Point.