Winter crabbing season open through December

Winter crabbing season has officially opened.

On September 30, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) re-opened much of Puget Sound for recreational crabbing through Wednesday, December 31.

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

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

Rich Childers, the shellfish manager for the WDFW, 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.

Visit wdfw.wa.gov for more information.

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