WDFW’s asking crabbers not to set pots in the paths of or around the docks of state ferries and do a better job weighting them, saying that last summer three of the big car and people transporters were disabled due to tangles with crab lines.
The message comes out as the five-day-a-week Dungeness season is set to open June 30 in central and northern Puget Sound waters, and in mid-July and mid-August in portions of the San Juans.
It also follows in the wake of a report this spring that a side-scan of the bottom near Anacortes found 614 derelict pots, pointing to the need for shellfishermen to take more care about how and where they deploy the devices.
“We need crabbers to help prevent conflicts with ferries as they hit the water this year,” said Captain Dan Chadwick in a press release.
According to a WSDOT manager quoted by WDFW, last summer the ferry Salish sustained damage to its propulsion system from crab pots that resulted in around 800 canceled sailings as boats on other routes were shifted to make up for the loss of it while repairs were made.
If I’m starting to sound preachy and like your dad, I apologize, but there are few things more maddening than waiting for a ferry and I’d prefer that we weren’t catching the blame for it.
So here are six tips that Chadwick offered that not only will help ensure the big boats keep running their routes but help cut down on our lost pots:
Add Weight to Lines – Propellers can sever or wrap up a line floating along the surface. Use sinking lines when possible, and add weight to keep floating lines off the surface.
Know Water Depth – The easiest way to lose a pot is to drop one in water deeper than the length of line attached. Use a line that is one-third longer than the water depth to keep pots from floating away.
Watch Pots – Stay close to dropped crab pots to ensure all are accounted for at the end of the day.
Add Extra Weights to Crab Pots – In many instances, adding just 10 pounds of weight can help recreational crab pots stay put.
Use Escape Cord – Biodegradable cotton cord, which is required on all pots, will degrade and allow crabs to escape if a pot is lost.
Identify Crab Pots – All recreational crab pot buoys must have the crab fisher’s name and address on them, and a phone number is recommended.
By harvest stat, some of the best crabbing occurs in the San Juans, which are only connected to the mainland by the Anacortes ferries, which make stops at Lopez, Orcas, Shaw, Friday Harbor, and Sydney, BC.
But it’s also good in Marine Areas 8-1 and 8-2, at the south end of which is the Mukilteo-Clinton run.
In Area 9 are the Keystone-Port Townsend and Edmonds-Kingston routes, while in Area 10 there are several between Seattle, Bainbridge and Vashon Islands and the Kitsap Peninsula.
Areas 11 and 13 are closed this year.
Crabbing is open Thurs.-Mon. As July 4 falls on a Wednesday, crabbing won’t be open that day.
To report lost pots without fear of penalty, go to https://wdfw.wa.gov/enforcement/lost_gear/ or call (855) 542-3935.
To report poaching, call (877) 933-9847.