State Shellfish Managers Set Puget Sound Crab Seasons

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) today announced summer crab-fishing seasons for areas of Puget Sound, starting June 16 with an opening in three marine areas.

Sport crab fishing gets underway Friday, June 16, in marine areas 4 (Neah Bay – East of the Tatoosh-Bonilla line), 5 (Sekiu) and 11 (Tacoma/Vashon Island), while Hood Canal opens June 24. Most other areas of the Sound will open for recreational crab fishing July 1, although two areas around the San Juan Islands open later in the summer to protect molting crab.

Seasons for the upcoming fishery are posted on WDFW’s crab fishing website at The website includes details on fishing regulations, as well as an educational video on crabbing.

Bob Sizemore, shellfish policy lead for WDFW, said recent test fisheries indicate that Dungeness crab remain abundant throughout most of Puget Sound.

“We are monitoring crab abundance and structuring fisheries in each region to maintain healthy populations,” Sizemore said. “Crabbing should be good from opening day all the way through the end of the summer season, although much of the catch south of Seattle this year will be red rock crab.”

The daily limit throughout Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across.

In all areas of Puget Sound, recreational crabbing is scheduled Thursdays through Mondays each week (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays) during the following periods:

  • Marine areas 4 (Neah Bay east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu) and 11 (Tacoma/Vashon): Open June 16 through Sept. 4.
  • Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal) and the portion of Marine Area 9 in Hood Canal south of a line from Olele Point to Foulweather Bluff:  Open June 24 through Sept. 4.
  • Marine areas 6 (East Juan de Fuca Strait), 8-1 (Deception Pass), 8-2 (Port Susan/Everett), the remainder of 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) and 13 (south Puget Sound):  Open July 1 through Sept. 4.
  • Marine Area 7 South (San Juan Islands/Bellingham): Open July 15 through Sept. 30.
  • Marine Area 7 North (Gulf of Georgia): Open Aug. 17 through Sept. 30.

Crab fishers may not set or pull shellfish gear from a vessel from one hour after official sunset to one hour before official sunrise. All shellfish gear must be removed from the water on closed days.

Sizemore reminds Puget Sound crabbers that they are required to record their harvest of Dungeness crab on their catch record cards immediately after retaining crab. Separate catch record cards are issued for the summer and winter seasons.

Catch record cards are not required to fish for Dungeness crab in the Columbia River or on the Washington coast.