The long holiday weekend is your final chance to catch Dungeness crabs in many parts of Puget Sound.
The fishery will close after sunset on Labor Day (Sept. 7). Unlike past years, anglers will now be required to to submit their summer catch reports by Sept. 21 or else face a fine of $10, which would be imposed when a person renews their fishing license the following year.
The new rule applies to all whether or not they crabbed or were successful in catching Dungeness crab.
The new law is to increase catch card return rates so state Fish and Wildlife can get more accurate sport catch estimates.
“This fishery is becoming more popular every year, which makes it more important than ever to track the catch as closely as possible,” Rich Childers, a state Fish and Wildlife shellfish manager said in a news release.
Those who submit their reports will also be entered in a drawing for one of 10 free 2010 combination fishing licenses, which allow the holder to fish for a variety of freshwater and saltwater species.
Reports may be filed Sept. 8-21 at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/wdfw/puget_sound_crab_catch.html. Cards may also be sent to WDFW CRC Unit, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091.
“The midseason catch report will help us by providing a much clearer picture of the catch-to-date,” Childers said.
Six areas of Puget Sound will close to crab fishing Sept. 7, including marine areas 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), and 11 (Tacoma/Vashon). Crabbing will be open the entire Labor Day weekend, Sept. 5-7.
Crabbing will remain open at:
Marine areas 7S, 7E, and 7N (Bellingham-San Juan Islands) are scheduled to remain open Wednesdays through Saturdays only, plus the entire Labor Day weekend, closing Sept. 30.
Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal) is scheduled to remain open Wednesdays through Saturdays only through Jan. 2.
Marine areas 4 and 5 in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and 13 in southern Puget Sound are scheduled to remain open seven days a week through Jan. 2.
Crabbers who continue to fish in an open area after Sept. 7 should record their catch on their winter catch card which is valid from Sept. 8 through Jan. 2.
“By submitting accurate catch reports, sport crabbers play an important role in the management of the Puget Sound crab fishery,” Childers said. “It’s vital that we hear from everyone — including those who haven’t caught crab so far this year — because that information is part of the equation.”
(Photo by Ken Lambert, Seattle Times staff photographer)