Puget Sound crab season will close Dec. 31

The 2014 recreational Puget Sound crab season will come to a close at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Once the season has closed, all sport crabbers licensed to fish for crab in the Sound will have through Feb. 1 to report their winter catch, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

State rules require all sport crabbers with winter catch record cards to submit catch reports for the winter season to the department even if they did not catch any crab.

People who have catch record cards are reminded that if they fail to submit a winter catch report, they will receive a $10 fine when they purchase their 2015 crab endorsement, said Rich Childers, shellfish policy lead, in a department news release.

The catch record data that is submitted plays an important role in managing the Puget Sound crab fishery, Childers said. Shellfish managers use the individual catch record card reports to estimate the size of the recreational harvest and to set future crabbing seasons.

With Wednesday’s closure, all Puget Sound marine areas will be closed to recreational crabbing until summer 2015. Crab fishing in marine areas 11 (Tacoma/Vashon Island) and 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) has been closed since Sept. 1 because the catch quota had been reached.

While most areas of the Sound opened for the season July 3, Marine Area 13 (Olympia) opened early this eason on June 1.