Recreational crabbing in the waters of Tacoma and Olympia will reopen Nov. 21. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife announced this afternoon marine areas 11 (Tacoma) and 13 (South Puget Sound) would reopen at 8 a.m. that day.
Crabbing in Hood Canal (Marine Area 12) will not reopen this fall.
If South Sound crabbers cannot wait until November, starting Saturday at 8 a.m. they can set their pots in marine areas 4 (Neah Bay), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island, and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) and the portion of Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) north of a line from Olele Point to Foulweather Bluff.
In each area, crabbing will be allowed seven days a week through Dec. 31.
The late opening for the South Sound is due to harvest disparities this summer between the sport and tribal crabbers, according to Tony Floor of the Northwest Marine Trade Association.
The sport harvest from July to Labor Day was 57,000 pounds, compared to 45,000 pounds for the tribal fishery. The catch in the Olympia area had exceeded the area’s quota. Federal court rulings call for an equal harvest between the two groups.
“We negotiated with the tribes to have a limited season to include Thanksgiving and Christmas,” said Steve Burton, shellfish biologist with the department.
“We didn’t have enough quota for a full season,” he said in explaining the later opening date.
“There’ll be some disappointed sport crabbers, but you can’t argue with the numbers,” Floor said.
In addition to Hood Canal, sport crabbing will not reopen this year in marine areas 10 (Seattle/Bremerton Area) and the portion of marine area 9 south of the Olele Point-Foulweather Bluff line.
The openings were approved by fishery managers after summer catch assessments indicated more crab are available for harvest, said Rich Childers, shellfish policy coordinator for the department.
The summer fishery closed after Labor Day to allow managers to assess the crab catch in each area. In the areas that are remaining closed, the annual quotas were reached during the summer fishery, Childers said.
The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6π inches. In addition, people may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. Additional information is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab.
All crab caught in the fall-winter fishery should be recorded on winter catch cards, which are valid until Dec. 31. Winter cards are available at license vendors across the state. Those catch reports are due to the department by Feb. 1. For more information on catch record cards, go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/crc.html