OLYMPIA — Crab seasons in most areas of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and, Admiralty Inlet and Hood Canal will begin July 1.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife on Friday announced summer crab fishing seasons for Marine Areas 4 through 13.
Crab seasons are scheduled to open as follows:
Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), Marine Area 5 (Sekiu), Marine Area 6 (East Juan de Fuca Strait from the Lyre River to Port Townsend), 8-1 (Deception Pass), 8-2 (Port Susan/Everett), and 9 (Admiralty Inlet to Port Gamble) will be open July 1 to Sept. 6, Thursdays through Mondays.
Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal) north of a line true east from Ayock Point will be open July 1 through Sept. 6, Thursdays through Mondays.
Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal) south of a line true east from Ayock Point is closed this season to allow weak Dungeness crab populations to increase.
“We expect good crabbing this year in several areas of Puget Sound,” said Don Velasquez, WDFW crustacean biologist. “Still, some areas with continued low abundance will have a limited season or remain closed this year to promote population growth.”
Summer seasons for the upcoming fishery are posted on WDFW’s crab-fishing website at www.wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfishing-regulations/crab.
The daily limit throughout Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. Crabbers may also keep six red rock crab of either sex per day in open areas, provided the crab are in hard-shell condition and measure at least 5 inches carapace width.
Crabbers may not set or pull shellfish gear from a vessel from one hour after official sunset to one hour before official sunrise.
Puget Sound crabbers are required to record their harvest of Dungeness crab on their catch record cards immediately after retaining the crab and before re-deploying their traps. Separate catch record cards are issued for the summer and winter seasons.
“Most crab fishers are returning their catch record cards and helping us better understand and manage this fishery. However, we are eager to work with fishers to increase reporting compliance. Otherwise we will have a much harder time determining levels of sustainable catch, which may result in fewer fishing opportunities over time,” said Velasquez. “We need those catch record cards back whether or not any crabs were caught.”
Catch record cards are not required to fish for Dungeness crab in the Columbia River or on the Washington coast, where crabbing is open year-round.
Additional sport halibut days proposed
Additional halibut openings in Marine Areas 3 and 4 (La Push/Neah Bay) and Marine Areas 5 though 10 (the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound) are proposed by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to begin August 19, three days per week, Thursday through Saturday, through September 24 or, until the quota is projected to be taken, whichever occurs first.
The WDFW is working with National Marine Fisheries Service to re-open these areas to sport halibut fishing in August and September. Federal approval is still pending.
Even though increased fishing opportunity was provided early in the season by adding more consecutive fishing days in the Puget Sound, recreational catch in these areas and in Neah Bay and La Push is lower than expected at this point in the season, according to the WDFW.
Sport halibut season dates in August and September will remain open as long as there is enough quota to open for another day but may close prior to September 24 if the sport allocation is projected to be taken. Alternately, additional days per week could be added, as well as openings in other areas.
Halibut fishing is open this week and next in Marine Areas 3 and 4 on June 17, 19, 24 and 26.
Halibut fishing is open this week and next in Marine Areas 5 through 10 on June 17, 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26.
Anglers are reminded that the Makah and Quileute Reservations, including marinas and all services, remain closed to visitors to support public health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Neah Bay on the Makah Reservation and La Push on the Quileute Reservation represent the primary direct boat access in Marine Areas 3 and 4, and as a result, those fishing in these areas must launch from and land in other areas.