OLYMPIA - Recreational crab fishing will be delayed in the southern portion of Marine Area 8-1, but the rest of that area will open for crab fishing June 4 as scheduled, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.
WDFW warned crabbers last week of a possible delay when test fisheries revealed that crab in marine areas 8-1 and 8-2 in northern Puget Sound were molting later than anticipated.
Since then, additional test fisheries have shown that the crab have firmed up sufficiently to allow fisheries in all but the Saratoga Passage/Holmes Harbor portion of Marine Area 8-1, said Don Velasquez, WDFW shellfish biologist.
Velasquez said Marine Area 8-1 south of a line from Snatelum Point to Rocky Point will remain closed until further notice. Other areas of marine areas 8-1 and 8-2 will open for crab fishing June 4 on a Friday-through-Monday schedule.
"Right now, we're expecting a delay of about two weeks in the southern portion of Marine Area 8-1," Velasquez said. "We'll issue another announcement once crab shells reach sufficient hardness to allow a fishery in that area."
Before WDFW will open a crab fishery, 80 percent of the crab in a test sample must have hard shells, Velasquez said. The reason is that soft-shelled crab are subject to high mortality rates associated with handling.