The summer crab fishing season will kick off June 1 south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, a month earlier than most other areas of Puget Sound. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife announced the seasons Friday.
Crabbing in Marine Area 13 will be open seven days a week through Sept. 1.
The early opening will give crabbers in the deep South Sound an extra month to catch the quota for those waters.
“Sport crabbers in that area have fallen short of reaching their catch quota in recent years, so we can afford to give them more time to fish during the upcoming season,” Rich Childers, shellfish policy lead, said in a news release.
Crabbing in the waters off Tacoma (Marine Area 11) and Hood Canal (Area 12) will open July 3 and the season will run through Sept.1. Crabbing will be allowed Thursdays through Mondays each week; and closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Childers said recent test fisheries indicate that Dungeness crab remain abundant throughout Puget Sound.
“We continue to see healthy numbers of crab throughout the Sound,” Childers said in the release. “With such strong numbers, crabbing should be good from opening day all the way through the end of the summer season.”
Tests conducted in recent years have shown that crab in southern Puget Sound are in hard-shell condition by June 1, allowing for an earlier starting date for the season in that area, Childers said. Two areas around the San Juan Islands are slated to open later this summer to protect molting crab.
The daily limit is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. Fishmen may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, as long as those crab measure at least 5 inches across.
Here are the seasons for the other area in the Sound:
Marine areas 4 (Neah Bay east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 8-1 (Deception Pass to East Point), 8-2 (East Point to Possession Point), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton): July 3- Sept. 1. Crabbing will be allowed Thursdays-Mondays each week; closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Marine Area 7 South (San Juan Islands/Bellingham): July 17-Sept. 29. Crabbing will be allowed Thursdays-Mondays each week; closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Marine Area 7 North (Gulf of Georgia): Aug. 15- Sept. 29. Crabbing will be allowed Thursdays-Mondays each week; closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Crabbers may not set or pull shellfish gear from a vessel from one hour after official sunset to one hour before official sunrise. All shellfish gear must be removed from the water on closed days.Puget Sound crabbers are reminded they are required to record their harvest of Dungeness crab on their catch record cards immediately after retaining crab.
Additional information on the Puget Sound crab fishery is available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab.