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Winter crabbing season opens Oct. 1 in the San Juan Islands and several other Puget Sound marine areas

OLYMPIA –The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced Wednesday, September 28 that many Puget Sound marine areas will reopen for recreational crab fishing beginning Oct. 1.

Openings were approved based on harvest estimated using catch record card information from the summer season and what is expected to occur during the winter season.

Waters reopening to sport crabbing Oct. 1 include marine areas 4 (Neah Bay, east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island, and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), and only the portion of 12 (Hood Canal) north of Ayock Point.

In each area, crabbing will be allowed seven days a week through Dec. 31. Sport crabbers are reminded that setting or pulling traps from a vessel is only allowed from one hour before official sunrise through one hour after official sunset.

Crabbing will not immediately reopen for winter in Marine Areas 10 (Seattle-Bremerton) and 11 (Vashon Island) due to uncertainties related to the amount of state share being estimated to be taken in the summer recreational fishery. Managers will re-evaluate the harvest estimates from Marine Areas 10 and 11 after the Catch Record Card (CRC) reporting period closes and all data is entered to determine if enough quota remains to allow a winter fishery.

Crabbers can still submit summer CRCs until Oct. 1 by submitting online or by mail. Reporting your catch helps ensure more accurate harvest estimates and informs future crabbing seasons. Learn more about crab catch record cards.

The portion of Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal) south of Ayock Point and Marine Area 13 (South Puget Sound) will remain closed for the winter season due to the ongoing conservation closure of all crab harvest.

Crabbers can test their skills at identifying different types of crab in Puget Sound and their understanding of regulations and best practices by taking the crabber knowledge quiz. Visit the WDFW recreational crabbing seasons and areas page to learn more.

The daily limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crabs, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6 1/4 inches. Crabbers may also keep six red rock crabs of either sex per day with a minimum carapace width of 5 inches, and six Tanner crabs of either sex with a minimum carapace of 4 1/2 inches. Additional information is available on WDFW's website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfishing-regulations/crab.

You must have a Puget Sound Dungeness crab endorsement to harvest Dungeness crab from Puget Sound. All Dungeness crab caught in the late-season recreational fishery must be recorded immediately on winter catch record cards, which are valid through Dec. 31. Winter catch record cards are free to those with crab endorsements and are available at license vendors across the state. Winter catch reports are due to WDFW by Feb.1, 2023.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife works to preserve, protect, and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish, wildlife, and recreational and commercial opportunities.