Puget Sound Crabbing Opens July 1 In Most Inside Waters


The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced Puget Sound summer crab-fishing seasons will get underway July 1 in many marine areas.


“The 2024 summer season is similar to what was in place for summer 2023,” said Don Velasquez, WDFW crustacean biologist. “Some areas with continued low abundance of Dungeness crab will see limited seasons or remain closed this year to continue to promote Dungeness population rebuilding.”

Crabbing will be closed July 2-3 in Marine Area 4 east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line and Marine Areas 5, 6, 8-1, 8-2, 9 and a portion of 12 north of a line projected due east from Ayock Point. These areas reopen for the July 4 holiday. Summer crab seasons are typically closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in Puget Sound marine areas.

Extreme low tides during and immediately after the July 4 holiday will also pose a challenge for people launching boats at some sites. Recreational crabbers should target the portion of the day with the least tide exchange and make sure their crab pots are properly weighted down during these extreme low tides to avoid traps moving and becoming lost. Crabbers can find helpful information on how to properly weight crab pots, by going to the Northwest Straits Commission webpage.

Crabbers are also reminded to avoid deploying crab pots and gear in ferry lanes. Crab pots and gear in ferry lanes have caused serious damage to ferries in the past.

This summer’s crab seasons are scheduled to open as follows:

The following areas will remain closed this season to protect weak Dungeness crab populations:

Summer seasons for the upcoming fishery are also posted on WDFW’s crab-fishing webpage. WDFW will have creel staff at many boat launch and access sites this summer to gather additional information from recreational crabbers. The information collected by these staff is important for management of the crab fishery.

The daily limit throughout Puget Sound is 5 Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6 1/4 inches. Fishers may also keep 6 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.

Crab fishers may not set or pull shellfish gear from a vessel from one hour after official sunset to one hour before official sunrise. Each unattended trap must have its own buoy line and a separate buoy that is permanently and legibly marked with the first name, last name, and permanent address of the licensed harvester. A more comprehensive list of regulations which pertain to crab traps can be found on the WDFW’s shellfish gear rules page. All traps must be removed from the water on days when the fishery is closed.

Puget Sound crabbers are required to record their harvest of Dungeness crab on their catch record cards (CRC) immediately after retaining the crab and before re-deploying the trap. Anglers who crab in Marine Area 7 North and South after Labor Day weekend will need a winter CRC. A separate CRC is issued for the summer and winter seasons.

CRC information is crucial to managing Dungeness crab in Puget Sound. Completed summer CRCs, regardless of whether any crab is caught, must be submitted, or reported online to WDFW by Oct. 1, 2024.

“Dungeness crab are an iconic creature of the Pacific Northwest,” Velasquez said. “To protect them and properly manage them, crabbers must remember to record their catch immediately on their CRC and report that information to WDFW. Last summer, 56 percent failed to report their CRC by the deadline, and collectively we have to do much better than that.”

A CRC is not required to fish for Dungeness crab in the Columbia River or on the Washington coast, where crabbing is open year-round.

Before heading out on the water this season, crabbers can test their skills at identifying different types of crab in Puget Sound and their understanding of regulations and best practices by taking the Puget Sound crabber knowledge quiz. Visit the WDFW webpage to learn more.

Crabbers are reminded to follow Be Whale Wise regulations and guidelines to help protect endangered Southern Resident killer whales (SRKW). Avoid approaching SRKW, and at minimum stay the required distance away (reference the Be Whale Wise website for more information). For details, visit BeWhaleWise.org.