State shellfish managers are extending the sport crabbing season in Hood Canal (Marine Area 12) and a portion of Admiralty Inlet (Marine Area 9) until Feb. 28. All other Puget Sound marine areas will close at 5 p.m. on Dec. 31, as scheduled.
The only portion of Admiralty Inlet that will remain open until Feb. 28 is the area north of the Hood Canal Bridge to the Foulweather Bluff to Olele Point line. The rest of Marine Area 9 will close Dec. 31, along with most other areas of Puget Sound. Those areas are scheduled to reopen next summer.
The department is extending the sport crab fishery in Hood Canal and a portion of Admiralty Inlet because there are plenty of crabs remaining in those areas, said Rich Childers, shellfish policy lead for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
“We’re seeing a lot of crab especially in the northern section of Hood Canal,” Childers said.
Childers reminds sport crabbers that they’re required to submit crab catch reports to WDFW for the winter season by Feb. 1 – even if they did not catch any crab. Sport crabbers should be aware that if they fail to submit a winter catch report, they will receive a $10 fine when they purchase their 2016 crab endorsement.
“Catch data submitted by crabbers plays an important role in managing the Puget Sound crab fishery,” Childers said. “We need to hear from everyone who was issued a winter catch card – including from those who didn’t catch any crab.”
To submit catch reports, crabbers may send their catch record card to WDFW by mail or file their report on a special webpage on the department’s licensing website. The mailing address is WDFW CRC Unit, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091.
The online reporting system will be available Jan. 1 through Feb. 1 at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/wdfw/puget_sound_crab_catch.html.
Crabbers will not be required to record crab on catch cards for the months of January and February 2016 for Hood Canal or the open section of Marine Area 9. However, crabbers must have in their possession a current shellfish license with a Puget Sound crab endorsement. WDFW staff will be conducting field-based surveys to estimate the recreational catch in Hood Canal and Admiralty Inlet for January and February.