Sports

Crabbing in Strait of Juan de Fuca opens June 18

Time to dust off those crab pots.

Starting June 18, crab fishing will open seven days a week in the western Strait of Juan de Fuca and southern Puget Sound. Most other marine areas will open July 2 on a Wednesday-through-Saturday schedule, although some waters north of Anacortes will not open until later in summer.

Sport crabbers planning to fish in Puget Sound this summer will find the upcoming season similar to last year’s, including catch-reporting procedures required by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Puget Sound recreational crabbing areas will open at 7 a.m. on the following dates:

• June 18: Marine areas 4 (Neah Bay east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu) and 13 (south Puget Sound) will open seven days per week through Jan. 2, 2009.

• July 2: Marine areas 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 7 South (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass to East Point), 8-2 (East Point to Possession Point), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), 11 (Tacoma/Vashon) and 12 (Hood Canal) will open Wednesdays through Saturdays only, plus the entire Labor Day weekend and will close the evening of Sept. 1 for a catch assessment. These areas will reopen in the fall if recreational harvest quotas have not been met.

• July 16: Marine Area 7 East (Bellingham and Samish bays) will open Wednesdays through Saturdays only, plus the entire Labor Day weekend and will close the evening of Sept. 30.

• Aug. 13: Marine Area 7 North (Lummi Island/Blaine) will open Wednesdays through Saturdays only, plus the entire Labor Day weekend and will close the evening of Sept. 30.

This is the second year sport crabbers in Puget Sound will be required to record their Dungeness crab catch on two separate catch record cards — one for the summer season and one for the fall/winter season, said Rich Childers, WDFW shellfish policy coordinator.

Sport crabbers will again have the option of reporting their catch on the Internet or by mailing in their catch cards. Either way, it’s important for crabbers to report their crab information, he said.

To submit catch reports, crabbers may either send their catch record card to WDFW by mail, or file their report on a special webpage on the department’s licensing website from Sept. 2 to Sept. 15.

As an incentive, sport crabbers who submit their catch reports by the Sept. 15 deadline will be entered in a raffle to win one of 10 free 2009 combination licenses, which allow the holder to fish for a variety of freshwater and saltwater species.

Childers reminds fishers that crab catch record cards are separate from the multi-species card used for recording catches of salmon, halibut and other fish. Also, catch record cards are not required to fish for Dungeness crab on the Washington coast (marine areas 1-4).

In addition to catch-card requirements, anyone fishing for crab in Puget Sound must purchase a $3 license endorsement, which is free to fishers under age 15, although dealer fees may apply. All fishers age 15 or older must also carry an applicable Washington fishing license in order to fish for crab anywhere in Washington.

The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of six and one-quarter inches. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least five inches across.

Additional information is available in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington pamphlet on the Web site at wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm.

Puget Sound crab fishery: Thirty-two percent of all sport crabbers licensed to fish in Puget Sound returned their summer catch-record cards last season. Only 10.5 percent returned their winter catch cards. WDFW plans to seek commission approval for a $10 penalty – starting in 2009 – for Puget Sound crabbers who do not return completed catch cards, as required under state fishing rules.

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