OLYMPIA - Most Puget Sound and Hood Canal recreational crab fisheries will close Oct. 15 because in-season catch estimates indicate annual quotas have been exceeded, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.
Fishing will close at 6 p.m. on Oct. 15 in marine areas 7, 9, 11, 12, and 13. Marine Areas 8-1 and 8-2 were closed earlier in the season. The closure applies to the taking of all crab species by all methods, including crab pots, ring nets, diving and wading.
Central Puget Sound (Marine Area 10) will remain open to recreational crab fishing. The Washington coast and the Strait of Juan de Fuca are also open to recreational crab fishing.
The emergency closure is necessary because the state recreational fishery has exceeded its annual allocation of Dungeness crab, said Richard Childers, WDFW shellfish biologist.
"The weather was exceptional, catch rates were high, and we had a lot of people out crabbing this year," Childers said.
Childers said an in-season survey of catch record cardholders confirmed the high catch rates. More than 6,000 cardholders were contacted by telephone to report their crab catch from April 1 through Sept. 2. Results of that phone survey showed target catch levels had been exceeded sooner than anticipated.
The next regularly scheduled recreational crab seasons will occur next spring, once the shellfish have gone through their annual molt.
More information on additional openings is available through the toll-free shellfish rule change hotline, (866) 880-5431, or on the regulation change page on WDFW's website.