OLYMPIA - Recreational crabbers will get more days to fish during the week of July Fourth in most areas of Puget Sound, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission decided today.
By the commission's action, crab fishing in six marine areas will get under way Saturday, July 1 and remain open through Saturday, July 8, rather than closing July 2-4 as originally scheduled.
Waters affected by that action include marine areas 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 7 South (San Juan Islands), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), 11 (Tacoma/Vashon) and 12 (Hood Canal). Those areas will then be open Wednesdays through Saturdays and the Labor Day weekend, with the possibility of additional fishing time in fall and winter.
The commission also added one extra day of crab fishing - July 2 - in marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass to East Point) and 8-2 (East Point to Possession Point), while taking into account the fact that crabbers have exceeded catch allocations in those areas in recent years.
Marine areas 8-1 and 8-2 will be closed to fishing July 3 and 4 before reopening July 5 on a Wednesday-through-Saturday fishing schedule.
"Commissioners heard from a lot of crab fishers that they want to be able to fish those days leading up to and including the Fourth of July," said Ron Ozment, commission chair. "We agreed that made sense in most areas, so long as everyone understands that it could reduce crabbing opportunities later in the year."
Not affected by the commission's action are three marine areas that will open for crab fishing June 18 seven days per week or two other areas in northern Puget Sound that open later in July and August.
The upcoming season will be the second year under new fishing rules established by the commission, a nine-member panel of citizens appointed by the Governor that sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Those new rules, which reduced the daily catch limit from six to five crab and limited fishing days in high-catch areas, were designed to extend the length of the fishing season into the fall and winter months, said Rich Childers, WDFW crab-policy manager for Puget Sound.