A rule in effect as of Sunday prohibits the recreational harvest of giant Pacific octopuses at seven Puget Sound locations, including two in Tacoma.
While the octopus population in Puget Sound appears to be healthy, the new rule makes viewing opportunities for these animals a priority at the sites, said Craig Burley, fish management division manager for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“Puget Sound is one of the most popular dive destinations in the nation, and giant Pacific octopuses are one of its main attractions,” Burley said in a department news release. “These new areas provide additional protection for the species and a greater chance for divers to see these fascinating animals.”
The new rule takes effect almost a year after a scuba diver stirred an outcry after legally harvesting a giant Pacific octopus at Seacrest Park Cove 2 in West Seattle. The strong negative reaction from the public and the dive community prompted the department to look at options for banning the harvest of these octopuses.
Working with a 12-member citizen advisory committee that included members of the sportfishing and diving communities, department staffers developed options earlier this year to provide a greater degree of protection for Puget Sound octopuses.
In August, the Fish and Wildlife Commission considered the options and voted to prohibit recreational harvest of the species at the seven scuba dive sites.
• Deception Pass north of Oak Harbor
• Seacrest Park Coves 1, 2 and 3 near Alki Point in West Seattle
• Alki Beach Junk Yard in West Seattle
• Three Tree Point in Burien
• Redondo Beach in Des Moines
• Les Davis Marine Park adjacent to the Les Davis Fishing Pier in Tacoma
• Days Island Wall in Tacoma
Information: Learn more about the sites where octopuses are protected at wdfw.wa.gov/viewing/octopus.