OLYMPIA – Sport crabbers will be able to start fishing July 4 – two weeks earlier than previously scheduled – in the Anacortes to Bellingham area, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.
Starting July 4, crab fishing in Marine Area 7 East will be open Wednesday through Saturday, two weeks before the date published in WDFW’s 2007-08 sport fishing pamphlet. Seven other areas of Puget Sound will also open for crab fishing on the Fourth of July this year.
The earlier starting date in Marine Area 7 East was approved after tests conducted by state and tribal biologists showed the crab in that area are in hard-shell condition, said Rich Childers, WDFW shellfish policy coordinator. He noted that crabbing seasons are timed to avoid molting periods, when crab in soft-shell condition are especially vulnerable to injury and yield less meat.
“The test results show the crab have reached their hard-shell stage earlier than in previous years,” Childers said. “That being the case, there was no reason to wait another two weeks to open the fishery in that area.”
Childers said the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet posted on WDFW’s website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations) will be updated to reflect the new July 4 starting date for the recreational crab fishery in Marine Area 7 East.
With that change, this year’s recreational crab-fishing schedule for Puget Sound is as follows:
- June 18: Marine areas 4 (Neah Bay east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu) and 13 (south Puget Sound) will open seven days per week through Jan. 2, 2008.
- June 27: Marine area 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) will open Wednesdays through Saturdays only, plus the entire Labor Day weekend and will close the evening of Sept. 3 for a catch assessment.
- July 4: Marine areas 7 South (San Juan Islands), Marine Area 7 East (Bellingham and Samish bays), 8-1 (Deception Pass to East Point), 8-2 (East Point to Possession Point), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), 11 (Tacoma/Vashon) and 12 (Hood Canal) will open Wednesdays through Saturdays only, plus the entire Labor Day weekend.
- Aug. 15: Marine Area 7 North (Lummi Island/Blaine) will open Wednesdays through Saturdays only, plus the entire Labor Day weekend and will close the evening of Sept. 29 for a catch assessment.
All areas will open at 7 a.m. on the dates noted.
As in previous years, the daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. In addition, fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least five inches across.
All crab fishers age 15 or older must carry a current Washington fishing license. In addition, all Puget Sound crabbers – regardless of age – must obtain a crab-licensing endorsement and record their catch on a catch record card. For more information on the Puget Sound crab fishery, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crab/index.htm on the WDFW website.