January 12, 2005
Contact: Craig Bartlett, (360) 902-2259
Upcoming crab opening for commercial fishers only
OLYMPIA – No new areas will open to recreational crabbing this Saturday (Jan. 15) when the commercial crab season opens on the coast.
That’s what the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has told hundreds of callers since last week, when a newspaper printed a story that failed to mention that the upcoming opening applies only to the commercial fleet fishing in coastal waters.
Since then, several other news outlets have picked up the story, also failing to note that the regulation issued by WDFW specifically applies to the commercial fishery.
“Our phones have been ringing off the hook,” said Lew Atkins, assistant director for the WDFW Fish Program. “People heard there was a crab opening, and jumped to the conclusion that it was for recreational fishers in Puget Sound. That’s just not the case.”
Atkins noted that the opening of the coastal commercial fishery, set to begin on Saturday, has been delayed since Dec. 1 because the crab have been slow to fill out. The opening applies to commercial fishers in Washington and northern Oregon, north of Cape Falcon.
Coastal waters are open to recreational fishing with crab pots through Sept. 15, and year-around for all other gear. However, the only waters currently open to recreational crab fishing in Puget Sound are in Marine Area 13, south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Atkins said.
“We don’t expect to open any other areas to recreational crabbing in Puget Sound or the Strait of Juan de Fuca until next summer,” Atkins said. “We’ll be announcing those openings in a month or two.”