May 21, 2004
Contact: Rich Childers, (360) 586-1498, ext. 400
Crab season scheduled to begin June 1, 2004 in many Puget Sound regions
OLYMPIA - Recreational crab fishing
is scheduled to open June 1 in much of Puget Sound, according to biologists
with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
For the first time since 2000, opening
dates for recreational crab fisheries were established prior to the fishing
season, following a multi-year effort to determine annual molt timing for each
area of Puget Sound.
"Recent crab shell hardness
testing has shown the molt is occurring as predicted in most areas, but crab
fishers should be aware that opening dates could be delayed in certain areas
if the molting process doesn't continue on schedule," said WDFW shellfish
biologist Rich Childers.
"Our goal is to provide recreational
crab fishers with a fixed opening day of the season. However, crab shell molting
is driven by unpredictable natural processes that can vary from year to year,"
Another change in Puget Sound crab
management this year is the addition of a $3 Puget Sound Dungeness crab endorsement
fee. Funds will be used to support recreational fishery sampling and enhancement.
Childers said no other changes are
expected for recreational crab fisheries this season. Bag limits and daily and
weekly fishing schedules are expected to remain the same throughout the 2004-05
Areas scheduled to open to crab fishing
June 1 include:
- The western Strait of
Juan de Fuca (marine areas 4 and 5)
- Admiralty Inlet (Marine
- Hood Canal (Marine Area
- Central and southern
Puget Sound (marine areas 10, 11 and13).
Waters "inside" Whidbey
Island (marine areas 8-1 and 8-2) are scheduled to open Fridays through Mondays
beginning June 4, while the extreme eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca and the southern
portion of the San Juan Islands (Marine Area 6 and a portion of Marine Area
7) are expected to open June 16.
The remainder of the San Juan Islands
and waters north of the islands will open later in the summer.
Details of all the scheduled opening
dates and additional crab-fishing information can be found on page 130 of WDFW's
2004-05 "Fishing in Washington" sport fishing rules pamphlet.
Recreational crab fishing in each
marine area will remain open until that individual area's quota has been reached.
Childers said a dramatic increase in the sport catch of Dungeness crab has led
to shorter fishing seasons in recent years.
The total recreational Dungeness
crab catch for Puget Sound for the 1996-97 season was 806,000 pounds, compared
to an estimated 1.6 million pounds in 2003-04.
All Puget Sound crab fishers 15 years
of age or older must have an annual shellfish/seaweed license. A catch record
card for recording Dungeness crab is required for all crab fishers, regardless
The daily limit is six male Dungeness
crab that measure at least 6 ¼ inches across. Crab fishing regulations
are updated as necessary at /fishing/regulations
on the Internet, or via the shellfish rule change hotline, at 1-866-880-5431.