Marine areas 11 and 13 will remain closed for recreational, commercial, and tribal crabbing this summer, announced the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). Marine Area 11 includes Tacoma and Vashon Island and Area 13 is South Puget Sound.
Pre-season test fisheries reported a low population of harvestable Dungeness crab in these two areas, falling below 88 percent in Marine Area 11 and 90 percent in Marine Area 13 in the 2014-15 season. Reports from recreational crabbers seem to support these findings according to WDFW.
Puget Sound shellfish manager of the WDFWF Bob Sizemore states, “We are taking this step to protect crab in these areas and allow the populations to rebuild.” They are hoping that crab larvae from other thriving Puget Sound populations will float south with the currents, settle, and grow, but something this involved can take several years.
Dungeness have to grow to 6 1/4” to be harvestable, which can take four to five years. Crabbing seasons for the remainder of Puget Sound are still being decided by state and tribal co-managers and will be announced as we go to print at the end of May.
More information on crab seasons, license requirements, catch record cards, and more can be found on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/.