OLYMPIA–Sport Dungeness crab fishers must begin recording their harvests on Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife catch record cards beginning April 1.
The catch record cards are available at WDFW regional offices and at fishing and hunting license vendors and are issued when new fishing licenses are purchased. Sport fishers must have their 2000-2001 fishing licenses to fish as of April 1.
Fishers will receive one catch record card with sections for Dungeness crab, salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and halibut. The consolidation to one document is part of WDFW's effort to simplify the fishing and hunting licensing system.
The new Dungeness crab reporting requirement responds to the Legislature's direction to measure the recreational Dungeness crab harvests more accurately. The catch card record system is designed to give state fisheries managers a more accurate picture of the sport harvest to ensure a fair allocation of crab among sport, commercial and tribal fishers.
Tribal and non-Indian commercial fishers already report their harvests on documents known as fish tickets.
Here are the details of the new reporting requirements for recreational Dungeness crab fishers:
- The catch must be recorded in ink immediately upon retaining crab on a boat or on shore. This allows divers and waders to record the catch once they have landed the crab at a secure location
- Completed cards must be return to WDFW by April 30 following the year in which the card was issued. They may be returned to WDFW's headquarters in Olympia or one of the agency's six regional offices. (The address of the agency headquarters is on the back of the record card.) Fishers may not turn in record cards to local dealers as they have in the past
The new reporting system, in conjunction with in-season phone surveys, will provide the information WDFW needs to estimate accurately the recreational harvest by area and type of fishery (wade, dive, pot, ring net and dock).
The data, in turn, will allow WDFW to structure seasons that ensure equitable allocation of the catch between recreational and commercial fishers while protecting the resource and assuring a 50-50 division with tribes as required by federal court order.