March 31, 2006
Contact: Morris Barker, (360) 902-2826
WDFW sets crab seasons for Puget Sound
(Update: The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has added extra fishing days in areas opening July 1, 2006. Click here for more information.)
OLYMPIA - Recreational crabbers will be able to fish anywhere in Puget Sound through Labor Day this summer - with additional openings likely in fall - under crab-fishing seasons announced today by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Like last year, sport crabbers throughout the Sound will be limited to five Dungeness crab per day, with crab fishing in most areas limited to four days per week, Wednesdays through Saturdays.
Marine areas with historically high harvest rates will open July 1, close after Labor Day for a catch assessment, then reopen in the fall if area harvest quotas have not been met.
All those provisions, applied for the first time last year, are designed to help moderate the pace of the popular fishery and extend the length of the season, said Morris Barker, WDFW marine resources manager.
"The new rules adopted last year went a long way toward keeping the recreational crab fishery in Puget Sound on track," Barker said. "For the first time in five years, the catch was within the overall harvest quota and, in most areas, crabbers were able to fish through the end of the year."
Under the summer recreational crabbing schedule announced today for Puget Sound:
- Marine areas 4 (Neah Bay east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu) and 13 (south Puget Sound) will open from June 18 through Feb. 28, seven days per week.
- Marine areas 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 7 South (San Juan Islands), 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 July 1, Wednesdays through Saturdays, plus the entire Labor Day weekend, before closing the evening of Sept. 4 for a catch assessment.
- Marine Area 7 East (Bellingham and Samish bays) will open July 15, Wednesdays through Saturdays, plus the entire Labor Day weekend, closing for a catch assessment Sept. 30.
- Marine Area 7 North (Lummi Island/Blaine) will open Aug. 17, Wednesdays through Saturdays, plus the entire Labor Day weekend, closing for a catch assessment Sept. 30.
Barker noted that crabbing seasons in most areas of Puget Sound are designed to allow sportfishers to harvest approximately 75 percent of the recreational quota before those areas close for a catch assessment in September.
"That gives us a good idea of the catch-to-date before we announce the fall season," Barker said.
Last year, all but two marine areas - 8-1 and 8-2 off the eastern shore of Whidbey Island - reopened after a month-long assessment period and remained open through the end of the year. In those two areas, the estimated catch had already exceeded the harvest quota by the Labor Day weekend, Barker said.
Like last year, WDFW plans to check crab brought to the dock at key sites to gauge the accuracy of catch estimates, which are based on phone surveys of fishers licensed to catch crab.
Fishery managers have scheduled a series of public meetings in April to discuss issues of interest to Puget Sound crabbers. Those meetings are scheduled for the following dates and locations:
- April 17 - Federal Way High School Little Theater, 30611 16th Ave. S., 6-9 p.m.
- April 18 - Brinnon Community Center, 306144 U.S. Highway 101, Brinnon, 6:30-9 p.m.
- April 24 - Edmonds Senior Center, 220 Railroad Ave., Edmonds, 6-9 p.m.
- April 27 - Carrie Blake Park, 202 Blake Ave. Sequim, 6-9 p.m.
- April 29 - Skagit PUD, 1415 Freeway Dr., Mount Vernon, 1-3 p.m.
Additional information about the recreational crabbing season in Puget Sound will be posted on the WDFW website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/) by April 10.