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Puget Sound Dungeness Crab Harvesting Regulations

When engaging in the harvesting of Dungeness Crab within Puget Sound, specific regulations and requirements must be adhered to ensure sustainable management of the resource and compliance with state laws.

Mandatory Requirements

  • Catch Record Card (CRC) and Crab Endorsement: Harvesters must possess a valid catch record card (CRC) along with a crab endorsement when harvesting Dungeness Crab in Puget Sound.
  • Winter CRC for Post-Labor Day Harvest: Any Dungeness Crab harvested after Labor Day must be recorded on a winter CRC. It is essential to familiarize oneself with CRC rules outlined in Catch Records & Codes for accurate reporting.
  • Reporting Obligations: Harvesters are obligated to report their catch information either by mail or through the designated online platform (fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov) by the deadline specified on each CRC. Failure to comply will result in a $10.00 penalty added to the cost of the next Puget Sound crab endorsement.
  • Softshell Crab Handling: Softshell crab, identifiable by the underside of the shell flexing under finger pressure, must be released promptly. Fishing instruments are prohibited from penetrating the shell to ensure the crab's welfare.
  • Back Shell Retention: It is unlawful to possess crab in the field without retaining the back shell.
  • Restricted Crab Species: Harvesters are permitted to retain only Dungeness, Red Rock, and Tanner crab species. Any other species must be released in adherence to regulations.

Daily Limits and Rules for Dungeness, Red Rock, and Tanner Crab

Puget Sound Regulations

Dungeness Crab

  • Daily limit: 5 Dungeness crab
  • Minimum size: 6¼ inches
  • Gender: Males only
  • Condition: Must be in hardshell condition

Tanner Crab

  • Daily limit: 6 Tanner crab
  • Minimum size: 4½ inches (measured at the widest portion of the shell)
  • Gender: Either sex
  • Condition: Must be in hardshell condition

Columbia River Regulations

Dungeness Crab

  • Daily limit: 12 Dungeness crab
  • Minimum size: 5¾ inches
  • Gender: Males only
  • Condition: Must be in hardshell condition

Pacific Ocean Regulations

Dungeness Crab

  • Daily limit: 6 Dungeness crab
  • Minimum size: 6 inches
  • Gender: Males only
  • Condition: Must be in hardshell condition

Red Rock Crab

  • Daily limit: 6 Red Rock crab
  • Minimum size: 5 inches
  • Gender: Either sex

Additional Information

  • Seasons and Openings: Refer to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) website or the toll-free shellfish rule change hotline for specific season openings, closures, and restrictions. Season information is typically available in late May or early June.
  • Recording Requirements: All Dungeness crab kept must be immediately recorded on a catch record card in ink as per Catch Records & Codes guidelines.
  • Area-Specific Regulations:
    • Puget Sound Marine Areas 12 (south of Ayock Point) and 13 are closed to crab harvest in 2023.
    • Columbia River: Crab fishing is open year-round to all gear. Fishers may fish for crab in Oregon waters under Oregon rules and land into Washington ports of the Columbia River. A resident license from either state is required.
    • Pacific Ocean: Season openings vary for Pot Gear and other gear types in different areas such as Grays Harbor, Willapa Bay, and Marine Areas 1-4 (west of Bonilla-Tatoosh line).

Preventing the Spread of Invasive European Green Crab

Identifying European Green Crabs

  • Physical Characteristics:
    • 5 spines (marginal teeth) on the outside of each eye
    • 3 rounded lobes between eyes
    • Oval-shaped carapace, potentially reaching up to 4 inches
    • Coloration: Not always green; can appear mottled dark brown to dark green with small yellow patches
    • Underside color ranges from yellow/green to bright red

Action to Take if Encountered

  • Release: If caught, it is crucial to release European green crabs immediately.
  • Prohibited Species: European green crabs are classified as prohibited species, and it is illegal to retain or harvest them.
  • Reporting Suspected Sightings: If you suspect you have found a European green crab or molt, follow these steps:
    • Leave the Crab: Leave the crab where you found it (you may keep a molt) and avoid disturbing the habitat.
    • Take Detailed Photos: Capture detailed photos of both the topside and underside of the crab.
    • Record Location: Note the location where the crab was found.

Reporting Procedures

  • Phone: Call 1.888.WDFW.AIS (1.888.933.9247) to report sightings.
  • Online: Visit wdfw.wa.gov/greencrab to submit reports online.
  • Email: Send an email to ais@wdfw.wa.gov with detailed information and photos.
  • App: Utilize the WA invasives app for reporting and information.

Additional Resources

For more information on European green crab in Washington State and how to prevent its spread, visit: wdfw.wa.gov/egc

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Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.