Letter to Puget Sound commercial crab fishers and dealers

September 26, 2019

Dear Puget Sound Commercial Crab Fishers and Dealers:

This letter is to inform you of regulation changes for the 2019-20 commercial Dungeness crab season, which begins at 8:00 a.m. on October 1, 2019. It is your responsibility as the Puget Sound Dungeness Crab license owner or wholesale dealer to communicate this important information to the alternate operators and buyers who work for you. The current permanent fishing rules and provisions and the emergency (temporary) rules are included in this season's commercial packet. The emergency rules replace specific sections of the permanent rules. Both permanent and emergency rules must be read together for a complete understanding of the 2019-20 season regulations. For example, if the permanent rules indicate an area opens on November 1 and the emergency rules list October 15 as the opening date, the area will open on October 15.

As a reminder, four years ago there was a change to the RCWs outlining the number of permits that can be stacked on a single vessel. RCW 77-65-100 and RCW 77-65-130 were amended to allow the stacking of up to three licenses on a single designated vessel.

Please review the regulatory provisions and the following information carefully before fishing and feel free to contact an agency employee at the numbers listed below if you have questions.

The following regulations will be implemented this season:

Initial crabbing period and regional crab pot limits

The Puget Sound Commercial Crab Fishery will open Monday, October 1, 2019 at 8:00 AM.

For Crab Management Region 1, Region 2 East, Region 2 West, Region 3-1, Region 3-2, and Region 3-3, effective 8:00 a.m. October 1, 2019, until further notice it is unlawful for any person to fish for crabs for commercial purposes with more than 50 pots per license per buoy tag number. Region 1 includes Marine Fish-Shellfish Catch Reporting Areas 20A, 20B, 21A, 21B, 22A and 22B. Region 3-1 includes 23A and 23B. Region 3-3 includes 23C and 29, Region 2 East includes 24A, 24B, 24C, 24D and 26A-E. Region 2

West includes 25B, 25D and 26A-W. Region 3-2 includes 23D, 25A and 25E.

The remaining buoy tags per license per region must be onboard the designated vessel and available for immediate inspection in Crab Management Regions 1, 2 East, 2 West, 3-1, 3-2, and 3-3.

Please see the enclosed map of region and catch area boundaries. Any in-season changes to regional pot limits and information about reopening regions for commercial crabbing will be announced on the website. The phone hotline has been discontinued.

Questions may be directed to Don Velasquez at 425-775-1311 x112, Katelyn Bosley at 360-302-3030 x319, or Bob Sizemore at 360-302-3030 x303.

Crab pot barging

Setting crab pot gear from a vessel not designated on a crab license ("barging") will be allowed in Regions 1, 3-1, and 3-3 only. Barging will not be allowed in Region 2 East, Region 2 West, or Region 3-2.

Barging in Regions 1, 3-1, and 3-3 will be allowed from 8:00 a.m. on October 1, 2019 until 7:00 p.m. on October 2, 2019 provided that the operator or alternate operator designated on the license is on board the non-designated vessel and notice is given to WDFW. The license owner must leave a telephone message at the Mill Creek Regional office, (425) 775-1311 ext 112 or by email to crabreport@dfw.wa.gov with the following information:

  • License Owner(s)
  • License Number(s)
  • Primary Operator
  • Alt Operator
  • Buoy Brand
  • # of Pots
  • Name of Barging Vessel
  • Barging Vessel CG ID # or WN #
  • Region or Set Location

Non-commercial and Limited-commercial Areas

Dungeness Bay Non-commercial Area:
The State commercial crab fishery is closed in that portion of Marine Fish/Shellfish Catch Area 25A west of the 123 degrees 7.0 minutes longitude line projected true south from the New Dungeness light to the southern shore of Dungeness Bay (see WAC 220-340-45500W).

Port Angeles Harbor Non-commercial Area:
That portion of Marine Fish/Shellfish Catch Area 23D west of a line from the eastern tip of Ediz Hook to the ITT Rayonier Dock (Port Angeles Harbor) will be closed to commercial crab harvest this season (see WAC 220-340-45500W) based on recommendations from the Clallam County Department of Health and Human Services.

Commercial crab fishing will be open at 8:00 a.m. October 1, 2019, in the following areas until further notice (see WAC 220-340-45500W and enclosed maps, for a complete description of area boundaries):

  • Outer Birch Bay Limited-Commercial Area: Those waters of Marine Fish-Shellfish Management and Catch Reporting Area 20A between a line from the boat ramp at the western boundary of Birch Bay State Park to the western point of the entrance of the Birch Bay Marina and a line from the same boat ramp to Birch Point.
  • Fidalgo Bay Limited-Commercial Area: Those waters of Marine Fish-Shellfish Management and Catch Reporting Area 22B in Fidalgo Bay south of a line projected from the red number 4 entrance buoy at Cap Sante Marina to the northern end of the eastern most oil dock.
  • Deer Harbor Limited-Commercial Area: Those waters of Marine Fish-Shellfish Management and Catch Reporting Area 22A in Deer Harbor north of a line projected from Steep Point to Pole Pass.
  • Useless Bay Limited-Commercial Area: Those waters of Marine Fish-Shellfish Management and Catch Reporting Area 26A-W in Useless Bay north and east of a line from the south end of the Double Bluff State Park seawall (47°58.782'N, 122°30.840'W) projected 110 degrees true to the boulder on shore (47°57.690'N, 122°26.742'W).
  • Port Gardner Limited-Commercial Area: That portion of Marine Fish-Shellfish Catch Reporting Area 26A east of a line projected from the outermost tip of the ferry dock at Mukilteo, projected to the green #3 buoy at the mouth of the Snohomish River, and west of a line projected from that #3 buoy southward to the oil boom pier on the shoreline.
  • Possession Point to Glendale Limited-Commercial Area: That portion of Marine Fish-Shellfish Management and Catch Reporting Area 26A east of a line that extends true north from the green #1 buoy at Possession Point to Possession Point, and west of a line from the green #1 buoy at Possession Point extending northward along the 200-foot depth contour to the Glendale dock.
  • Langley Limited Commercial Area: That portion of Marine Fish-Shellfish Management and Catch Reporting Area 24C shoreward of the 400-foot depth contour within an area described by two lines projected northeasterly from Sandy Point and the entrance to the marina at Langley.

The permanent regulation regarding all other non-commercial and limited-commercial areas not listed above is found in WAC 220-340-455, which is enclosed in this mailing.

Maps showing approximate non-commercial and limited-commercial zone boundaries and descriptions of these areas are enclosed for your convenience. Note that the state commercial fishery is closed in areas designated on the maps as "Special Management Areas".

Buoy Tags

Buoy tags are being issued as a one-year tag. The permanent regulations addressing the use of buoy tags are included with this letter (WAC 220-340-430WAC 220-340-440) and the following process will again be used for obtaining replacement tags:

  • Additional tags to replace lost tags will only be issued to the owners or operators of Puget Sound commercial crab fishery licenses. There is a $1.25 charge for each replacement tag. The charge per fisher, for replacement tags needed during the 2019-20 season, will be billed to those fishers when they purchase tags for the 2020-21 season.
  • To obtain replacement tags, the owner must complete and sign a declaration form in the presence of a designated agency employee, stating the number of pots/buoy tags lost, the location and date where the pot gear or tags were last observed, and the presumed cause of loss. Replacement tags can only be obtained in person at the following designated locations and from the following agency staff:

Mill Creek Regional Office
16018 Mill Creek Blvd.
Mill Creek, WA 98012
 - Don Velasquez (425) 775-1311 x112
 - George Peterson  (425) 775-1311 x119

LaConner District Office
111 Sherman St.
LaConner, WA 98257
 - Ralph Downes (360) 202-7562

Port Townsend Office 
375 Hudson St .
Port Townsend, WA 98368
 - Katelyn Bosley (360) 302-3030 x319
 - Bob Sizemore (360) 302-3030 x303
 - Karen Nordstrom (360) 302-3030 x320 
 - Doug Rogers (360) 302-3030 x311

License Division
Natural Resources Building 
1111 Washington St. SE
Olympia, WA 98501
 - Commercial Licenses (360) 902-2464

Bellingham District Office 
2620 N. Harbor Loop Dr, Suite 20
Bellingham, WA 98225
 - Chad Paul or Samantha Bund (360) 676-2146

To ensure that appropriate staff will be on site to distribute replacement tags, please contact designated staff at the office where you plan to obtain replacement tags to schedule an appointment. Declaration forms will be available at the time of receiving replacement tags.

The following regulations for crab buyers will be implemented again this season:

  • We require daily reports by crab buyers during the 2019-20 season to improve our ability to monitor the state commercial harvest in each region. You must report daily purchases of Puget Sound crab harvested by non-treaty fishers by 10:00 a.m. the following day. For more details, see permanent WAC 220-352-340. Reports must be made by fax or e-mail and correctly identify the buyer, region and/or sub-area landed crab were caught in, and the amount of crab landed.
  • The reports must be made to the Mill Creek Regional Office by fax at 425-338-1066 (see WAC 220-352-24000B) or by e-mail to crabreport@dfw.wa.gov. For your convenience, an optional FAX reporting form has been included in this packet. An electronic version of this form is available on request to the crabreport e-mail address. Fax and E-mail reports must specify the dealer name, dealer phone number, date of delivery of crabs to the original receiver, and the total number of pounds of crab caught by non-treaty fishers by Crab Management Region or Marine Fish/Shellfish Catch Area. The fish receiving ticket-reporting requirement of WAC 220-352-340 remains in effect.
  • Dealers/Buyers can NOT leave voice messages for catch reports.
  • According to WAC 220-352-340, it is unlawful for any original receiver of crab to fail to record ALL crab aboard the vessel making the delivery to the original receiver. The poundage of any crab deemed to be unmarketable, discards, or weigh backs must be shown on the fish receiving ticket, but a zero dollar value may be entered for such crab.

Complete regulations and landings information that pertain to the 2019-20 Puget Sound commercial crab fishery can be found on the WDFW web site.

Please note that this material will NOT be printed out in hardcopy and mailed out to everyone. In the interest of conducting more efficient business practices, the former "mailer" is now posted in the WDFW website's commercial section. This section will continue to be updated with in-season harvest numbers, detailed color charts for special zones, and current emergency regulations. If you need a printed copy of this pre-season information packet please call 425-775-1311 ext 112 with your request and be sure to leave your name and mailing address.

Have a safe and productive season.


Katelyn Bosley, 
Puget Sound Shellfish Biologist, (360) 302-3030 ext 319 
Port Townsend

Don Velasquez, 
Puget Sound Shellfish Biologist, (425) 775-1311 ext 112 
Mill Creek

cc:     Bob Sizemore, Puget Sound Shellfish Manager
         WDFW Enforcement

See also: