Sports

Crabbers allowed 3 more days

Recreational crabbers will get a couple more days to fish during the Four of July week in most areas of Puget Sound.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will allow six areas to remain open through Saturday, July 8, rather than closing July 2-4 as originally scheduled.

Waters affected by that action include marine areas 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 7 South (San Juan Islands), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), 11 (Tacoma/Vashon) and 12 (Hood Canal). Those areas will then be open Wednesdays through Saturdays and the Labor Day weekend, with the possibility of additional fishing time in fall and winter.

The commission also added one extra day of crab fishing — July 2 — in marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass to East Point) and 8-2 (East Point to Possession Point), while taking into account the fact that crabbers have exceeded catch allocations in those areas in recent years.

Marine areas 8-1 and 8-2 will be closed to fishing July 3 and 4 before reopening July 5 on a Wednesday through Saturday fishing schedule.

“Commissioners heard from a lot of crab fishers that they want to be able to fish those days leading up to and including the Fourth of July,” said Ron Ozment, WDFW commission chair. “We agreed that made sense in most areas, so long as everyone understands that it could reduce crabbing opportunities later in the year.”

State law requires that everyone who fishes for Dungeness crab — including crabbers under age 15 who are not required to purchase a fishing license — carry and maintain a catch record card. After each year’s fishery, catch record cards must be returned to the WDFW, whether or not the cardholder caught or fished for crab during the season.

Fishery managers rely on catch reports to track the sport harvest, just as they depend on fish tickets to track the commercial catch. And with more than 200,000 sport crabbers expected to take part in this year’s fishery, the need for accurate catch accounting has never been greater.

At least twice during each year’s crab fishery, 6,000 Puget Sound recreational crabbers are called at random and asked for the harvest totals on their catch record cards. Since that information is used for in-season management decisions, it is essential that those catch record cards be kept up to date.

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