Crabbing season reopens through December

Crabbing season is going to be a little longer than usual this year.

On September 30, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced that most of the marine areas around Puget Sound are to be reopened for recreational crabbing through Wednesday, December 31. The season was originally scheduled to close on September 29.

Marine areas 4 through 9, 12 and 13 will all be reopened through the winter. Only marine areas 10, near the Seattle and Bremerton area, and 11, near Tacoma and Vashon Island, will remain closed.

Blaine and Birch Bay are located in marine sub-area 7 north, which runs from Lummi Island up to Point Roberts. Sub-area 7 south includes Bellingham and the San Juan Islands.

Rich Childers, the shellfish manager for the WDFA, said fishery managers and WDFW inspectors approved the extended season after catch assessments showed there were still plenty of crabs available for harvest.

In each reopened area, crabbing will be allowed seven days a week for the rest of the year. The catch limits from the regular crabbing season remain in place. For Dungeness crab, the limit is five hard-shell males with at least a 6.25-inch carapace. Up to six red rock crabs of either sex can be caught, as long as they are hard-shelled and at least 5 inches across.

All soft-shell crabs must be released, and a winter catch card must be updated and submitted to the WDFW by February 15, 2015. Winter catch cards can be obtained for free with a crab endorsement at a certified license vendor.

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