Summer Dungeness crab season gets the green light for crabbing enthusiasts to set pots in some Puget Sound areas as soon as July 2 Leave a reply
By Mark Yuasa
There is no reason to feel crabby about this news!
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced today the Puget Sound Dungeness crab fishery will begin next month in many marine areas including south-central Puget Sound which has been closed since 2018.
The Dungeness crab season opens July 2 through Sept. 7 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week) in the Strait of Juan de Fuca east of Bonilla-Tatoosh Island boundary line at Neah Bay (Marine Catch Area 4), Sekiu (5) and Port Angeles (6); the east side of Whidbey Island (8-1 and 8-2); and northern Puget Sound (9).
Central and south-central Puget Sound (10 and 11) will be open July 12 through Sept. 7 with fishing allowed on Sundays and Mondays only.
Hood Canal (12) north of Ayock Point will be open July 2 through Sept. 7 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week). Areas south of Ayock Point are closed this summer.
A section of San Juan Islands (7 South) opens July 16 through Sept. 28 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week). Another San Juan Island section known as “7 North” opens Aug. 13 through Sept. 28 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week). Those planning to crab after Labor Day must obtain a winter catch card.
Southern Puget Sound (13) will remain closed this summer to help crab populations rebuild.
The final catch total for 2019 hasn’t been finalized but through March 9 about 8.5-million pounds had been caught in sport, tribal and non-tribal commercial fisheries compared to 9,225,000 in 2018; 9,285,512 in 2017; and 10,645,000 in 2016. The downward trend comes on the heel of a record catch in 2015 when 11.8 million pounds of Dungeness crab was landed.
In 2019, the sport Dungeness crab fishery landed 1,660,752 pounds (compared to 1,585,956 in 2018 and 1,764,633 in 2017) in all Puget Sound catch areas.
A breakdown showed the San Juan Islands catch at 536,597 pounds (537,194 in 2018); east side of Whidbey Island at 735,607 (720,417); central Puget Sound at 47,236 (46,788); northern Puget Sound at 94,078 (95,678); Hood Canal at 77,229 (87,377); and eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca at 163,182 (117,939); and western Strait at 6,171 (no data from 2018).
The summer — July through September — sport fishery continues to have the highest participation level with 192,798 catch cards issued compared to 23,578 during the winter fishery.
Crabbers in Puget Sound must immediately write down their catch on record cards immediately after retaining Dungeness crab. Separate catch record cards are issued for the summer and winter seasons. Anglers who plan to fish in Area 7 after Sept. 7 will need to obtain a winter catch card.
The daily limit in Puget Sound is five male Dungeness crab in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. Fishermen may also keep six red rock crab of either sex daily. Red rock crab must measure at least 5 inches. For additional details and regulations, go to https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfishing-regulations/crab.
Be sure to view the WDFW website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing for rules on social distancing. If public safety concerns develop, WDFW could close areas to further protect public health and safe resource management.