OLYMPIA – With some of the most popular marine areas of Puget Sound set to open for sport crabbing, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) officers will be stepping up resource-protection patrols.
Seven marine areas in Puget Sound will open July 1 at 7 a.m., joining three other areas that opened to crabbing earlier this month.
“Unfortunately our officers already have seen numerous violations in the marine areas currently open,” said Mike Cenci, WDFW’s deputy chief of enforcement. “The rules of the fishery are designed to protect the long-term health of the crab population in Puget Sound. So before going out on the water, crabbers need to make sure they understand and follow all the rules, because our officers will be strictly enforcing the regulations.”
Beginning July 1, marine areas 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 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 be open for crabbing Wednesdays through Saturdays each week, plus the entire Labor Day weekend. Those marine areas will close the evening of Sept. 6 for a catch assessment.
Cenci noted that those areas will be closed on the Fourth of July.
Three marine areas in Puget Sound – marine areas 4 (Neah Bay east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu) and 13 (south Puget Sound) – opened June 18. Sport crabbing in those areas is open seven days a week through Jan. 2, 2011.
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. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. Additional information on the fishery, including information on how to properly measure crab, is available in WDFW's Fishing in Washington pamphlet on the department’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations.
“These fishing regulations, as well as the catch reporting system, are important tools in managing a sustainable crab fishery,” said Rich Childers, shellfish policy lead for WDFW.
Sport crabbers in Puget Sound are required to record their Dungeness crab catch on two separate catch record cards – one for the summer season and one for the fall/winter season. Catch record cards are not required to fish for Dungeness crab in the Columbia River or on the Washington coast (marine areas 1-4).
Crabbers have the option of reporting their summer catch on the Internet after Sept. 6 or by mailing in their catch cards to WDFW. The mailing address and the Internet reporting site are printed on each catch card.
“We need to hear from everyone who participates in the Puget Sound fishery – including those who didn’t catch any crab – because more data provides greater accuracy in estimating the catch and developing future fishing seasons,” Childers said.
Childers reminded crabbers that those who fail to file catch reports for 2010 will face a $10 fine, which will be imposed when they apply for a 2011 fishing license.
Anyone fishing for crab in Puget Sound must purchase a $3 crab endorsement, which is free to fishers under age 15. All fishers age 15 or older also must carry an applicable Washington fishing license to fish for crab anywhere in Washington.
Two other portions of Puget Sound – Marine Area 7 East (Bellingham and Samish bays) and 7 South (San Juan Islands) – open for sport crabbing at 7 a.m. July 14. Those areas will be open Wednesdays through Saturdays, plus the entire Labor Day weekend, closing the evening of Sept. 30. Marine Area 7 North (Lummi Island/Blaine) will open Aug. 11 under the same weekly schedule.