Boatloads of crabbers hope to light the fuse on the long Fourth of July weekend by hitting the water when the season officially opens Thursday, July 1.
"We expect good crabbing this year in several areas of Puget Sound," state Department of Fish and Wildlife crustacean biologist Don Velasquez said. "Still, some areas with continued low abundance will have a limited season or remain closed this year to promote population growth."
Summer crabbing season in marine areas 8-1 and 8-2 around Stanwood and Camano Island, and most other areas, will be open Thursdays through Mondays each week through Sept. 6. However, no sport crab fisheries will be open Tuesdays or Wednesdays. All shellfish gear must be removed from the water on closed days.
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. People may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, measuring at least 5 inches across.
Puget Sound crabbers must record their harvest of Dungeness crab on their catch record cards immediately after retaining crab. Separate catch record cards are issued for the summer and winter seasons. See wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab for updates.
Crab fishers may not set or pull shellfish gear from a vessel from one hour after official sunset to one hour before official sunrise.
Recreational crabbing in Marine Areas 4, 5, 6, 8-1, 8-2, 9 and 12 (north of Ayock Point in Hood Canal) will be open July 1. The subareas of Marine Area 7 will open July 15 to protect molting crab. Due to modest crab abundance and high expected crab fishing, marine areas 10 and 11 will have a limited season starting July 11 only on Sunday and Monday each week. Marine Area 12 (south of Ayock Point) and Marine Area 13 (South Puget Sound) are closed this season.
State agencies are urging crabbers to steer clear of ferry lanes. In recent years, vessels had to be repaired after crabbing lines were caught in the propellers, resulting in nearly 800 canceled rides.
Snohomish County officials said about 12,000 pots are lost in the Puget Sound area every year. A single lost crab pot can kill up to 50 crab until deterioration.
Puget Sound crabbers are required to record their harvest of Dungeness crab on their catch record cards immediately after retaining the crab and before redeploying the trap. Separate catch record cards are issued for the summer and winter seasons. Cards are due Oct. 1.
“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,” Velasquez said. “We need those catch record cards back whether or not any crabs were caught.”