Recreational crab fishing opens in the southern portion of Marine Area 7, which includes the San Juan Islands and Fidalgo and Padilla bays, on Sunday, July 15. The northern portion, in the Gulf of Georgia, opens Aug. 16.
Other areas in the Puget Sound opened for sport crabbing Sunday.
The marine areas will be open for crabbing Thursday through Monday.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fishery managers expect another good summer crab season, according to a press release from the department.
Recent state and tribal test fisheries indicate the crab population in Puget Sound remains abundant, said Rich Childers, Fish and Wildlife shellfish policy lead.
“The test boats have done very well,” Childers said. “I expect this summer’s fishery to be similar to last year’s, when crabbing was good throughout the entire season in most areas of Puget Sound.”
Anyone fishing for crab in Puget Sound must purchase a crab endorsement, which is free to fishers younger than 15. All fishers age 15 or older also must carry an applicable Washington fishing license to fish for crab anywhere in Washington.
Licensing information is available at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov Licen.ses can be purchased at Ace Hardware, 1720 Q Ave.
Mike Cenci, WDFW’s deputy chief of enforcement, said it is important for crabbers to review the rules of the fishery before heading out on the water.
“Take the time to fully understand the rules, particularly the daily limit, how to properly measure and identify crab, and the catch record card requirements,” Cenci said. “Our officers will be out on the water enforcing the regulations and ensuring boaters are complying with safe boating practices.”
The daily catch limit is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6 and 1/4 inches. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across.
Marine Area 7 will remain open through Sept. 30 while other areas will close Sept. 3 for a catch assessment.
Sport crabbers in Puget Sound are required to record their Dungeness crab catch on a catch record card. Separate catch record cards are issued for the summer and winter seasons. The 2012 summer cards are valid only through Sept. 3. The winter cards will be available Aug. 15 and are valid until Dec. 31.
Childers reminds crabbers they are required to record their Dungeness crab catch on their catch record cards immediately after retaining crab.
“Having crab in your possession that are not properly recorded on a catch card is a violation and could result in a fine,” he said.
Crabbers can report their crab catch on the Internet after Sept. 3 or by mailing in their catch cards to Fish and Wildlife. The mailing and the web addresses are printed on each catch card.
“We need to hear from everyone who participates in the fishery — including those who didn’t catch any crab — because more data provides greater accuracy in estimating the catch and developing future seasons,” Childers said.
Crabbers who fail to file catch reports for 2012 will face a $10 fine, which will be imposed when they apply for a 2013 fishing license.
More information on the crab fishery is at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/.
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