Crab fishing seasons open for Puget Sound

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) on May 27 announced summer crab-fishing seasons for Puget Sound, starting June 1 with an early opening in Marine Area 13 south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

Most other areas of the sound will open for recreational crab fishing July 2, although two areas around the San Juan Islands open later in summer to protect molting crab.

Seasons for the upcoming fishery are posted on WDFW’s crab fishing website at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab. The website includes details on fishing regulations, as well as an educational video on crabbing.

Like last year, crabbers will have an extra month to catch their quota in Marine Area 13, said Rich Childers, shellfish policy lead for WDFW.

Recent test fisheries indicate that crab in southern Puget Sound are in hard-shell condition, allowing for an early start to the fishing season in that area, Childers said.

“Sport crabbers in that area have fallen short of reaching their catch quota in recent years, so we can afford to give them more time to fish during the upcoming season,” Childers said. “Over the next couple of weeks we will continue to conduct test fisheries in Puget Sound, where we could open a few other areas to sport crabbing earlier than currently scheduled.”

Crabbers should check the department’s website for any announcements, Childers said.

The daily limit for crab fishers throughout Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across.

Below is the current Puget Sound summer crab-fishing schedule for Marine Area 7:

Marine Area 7 South (San Juan Islands/Bellingham) – Open July 16 through September 28. Crabbing is allowed Thursdays through Mondays each week; closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Marine Area 7 North (Gulf of Georgia) – Open August 13 through September 28. Crabbing is allowed Thursdays through Mondays each week; closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Crab fishers may not set or pull shellfish gear from a vessel from one hour after official sunset to one hour before official sunrise. All shellfish gear must be removed from the water on closed days.

Childers reminds Puget Sound crabbers that they are required to record their harvest of Dungeness crab on their catch record cards immediately after retaining crab. Separate catch record cards are issued for the summer and winter seasons.

Catch record cards are not required to fish for Dungeness crab in the Columbia River or on the Washington coast.

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