Sports

Most of Puget Sound closing to crabbing

Sport crabbers must file catch reports by Sept.15

Recreational crab fishing will close for a catch assessment in eight areas of Puget Sound at sunset on Labor Day, after which everyone licensed to fish for crab in the Sound will have until Sept. 15 to report their summer’s catch.

Licensed sport crabbers must submit summer catch reports to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), whether or not they fished or were successful in catching Dungeness crab.

To submit their catch reports, crabbers may either send WDFW their completed catch record cards by mail or file their information online. Catch record cards may be mailed to WDFW CRC Unit, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091. The webpage, which is scheduled to be online Sept. 1-15, is available at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/wdfw/puget_sound_crab_catch.

Sport crabbers who file their catch reports by the deadline will be entered in a drawing for one of 10 free 2009 combination fishing licenses, which allow the holder to fish for a variety of freshwater and saltwater species.

This is the second year that summer crab catch reports are required after Labor Day with fall/winter reports due Jan. 2 to 15. The two-stage reporting system is designed to give fishery managers more accurate information about the recreational crab catch during the course of the season, said Rich Childers, shellfish policy coordinator for WDFW.

“This fishery is very popular, which makes it important to track the catch closely throughout the season,” Childers said. “The new mid-season catch report is providing a much clearer picture of the catch-to-date.”

Childers added that the summer catch reports help fishery managers determine how much crab may still be available for harvest in fall and winter fisheries under catch quotas for specific areas of Puget Sound.

Local areas of Puget Sound that will close to crab fishing the evening of Sept. 1, including marine areas 7 South (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass to East Point), 8-2 (East Point to Possession Point) and 9 (Admiralty Inlet).

Meanwhile, crab fishing is scheduled to remain open in marine areas 7E and 7N (east and north of the San Juan Islands) Wednesdays through Saturdays each week through Sept. 30. Three other marine areas, 4 and 5 in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and 13 in southern Puget Sound, are scheduled to remain open seven days per week through Jan. 2.

Even if they continue to fish in an open area, all crabbers licensed to catch Dungeness crab in Puget Sound are required to submit their summer catch report by Sept. 15, Childers said.

“By submitting accurate catch reports, sport crabbers can play an important role in the management of the Puget Sound crab fishery,” Childers said. “It’s important that we hear from everyone — including those who haven’t caught crab so far this year — because that information is part of the equation.”

For more information about recreational crabbing in Puget Sound, see WDFW’s website at wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crab/index.htm.

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