The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today Puget Sound summer crab-fishing seasons will get underway July 1 in many marine areas.
“The summer seasons being announced today are very similar to what was announced for summer 2022,” 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 recovery.”
Crabbing will be closed on the July 4 holiday (summer seasons typically are closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays). Extreme low tides during opening week 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 ferry boats in the past.
This summer’s crab seasons are scheduled to open as follows:
Marine Areas 4 (Neah Bay east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (East Juan de Fuca Strait), 8-1 (Deception Pass), 8-2 (Port Susan/Everett), and 9 (Port Gamble and Admiralty Inlet): Open July 1 through Sept. 4, Thursdays through Mondays only.
Marine Area 7 South (San Juan Islands/Bellingham): Open July 15 through Sept. 30, Thursdays through Mondays only.
Marine Area 7 North (Gulf of Georgia): Open Aug. 17 through Sept. 30, Thursdays through Mondays only.
Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton): Open July 2 through Sept. 4, Sundays and Mondays only.
Marine Area 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island): Open July 2 through Aug. 28, Sundays and Mondays only.
Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal) north of a line projected true east from Ayock Point: Open July 1 through Sept. 4, Thursdays through Mondays only.
The following areas will remain closed this season to protect weak Dungeness crab populations:
Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal) south of a line projected true east from Ayock Point: Closed until further notice.
Marine Area 13 (South Puget Sound): Closed until further notice.
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 five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6 1/4 inches. Fishers 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 five 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 immediately after retaining the crab and before re-deploying the trap. Separate catch record cards are issued for the summer and winter seasons.
Catch record card information is crucial to managing Dungeness crab in Puget Sound. Completed summer catch record cards, regardless of whether any crab is caught, must be submitted, or reported online to WDFW by Oct. 1, 2023.
“It is important that crabbers return their catch record cards at the end of the season in order to help us better understand and manage this fishery” said Velasquez. “Last summer only 42 percent of crabbers reported their catch by the deadline, and this information is critical for setting future seasons. We need those catch record cards returned or reported online– whether you caught any crab or not — to determine levels of sustainable catch and set harvest seasons,” said Velasquez.
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.
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.