Celebrate Valentine’s Day and American Heart Health Month with locally caught Dungeness crab!

Sustainable Dungeness crab fishery management keeps this popular Pacific Northwest seafood on tables nearly year-round

In celebration of Valentine’s Day and American Heart Health Month, treat yourself and that special someone in your life with local, sustainable seafood instead of a box of chocolates!

Seafood is a great source of protein, vitamins, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and is a great way to spoil yourself and your loved ones this February.

One way to kick it up a notch is by opting for sustainably managed, locally harvested Dungeness crab. The commercial winter fishing season off the Washington coast just got underway in February, with fresh Dungeness crab from the coastal commercial crab fishery available at dockside and in many retail markets, seafood vendors, and restaurants across the state. The coast is also open for recreational crab fishing too!

Whether you’re enjoying crab you’ve harvested yourself or are planning to make a visit to your local market or seafood vendor, rest assured that fishery managers are working hard to support sustainable seafood management that all Washingtonians can trust.

The Washington coastal Dungeness crab fishery is the state’s largest commercial fishery, generating over $50 million annually. Crab is abundant in most marine waterways of Washington at select times of the year, and this hard-shelled crustacean is fished from the Aleutian Islands near Alaska south to Mexico.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife uses extensive monitoring to ensure sustainable, ecologically resilient Dungeness crab populations. Pre-season and in-season testing include measuring crab shell size, hardness, and other data points, including the presence of marine toxins, to help get a better understanding of the health and abundance of the Dungeness crab population. Visit our Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery webpage to learn more.

Information about how fishery managers monitor the commercial Dungeness crab fishery.

Find Washington seafood near you with the help of Local Catch, a network of supported fisheries and small-scale harvesters. Not sure how to prepare your bounty? Check out some of our favorite recipes from our friends at Seafood Nutrition Partnership and Washington Sea Grant, which has a suite of local Washington seafood recipes perfect for the holiday season.

Do your part during Heart Health Month by supporting the cardiovascular health of your loved ones by eating more Washington-harvested seafood like crab, a popular, nutritious delicacy in the culinary realm!

Dungeness crab cakes are an easy recipe and make for a delicious meal. Photo courtesy of Washington Sea Grant and Tom Douglas.

Baked Crab Cakes

Courtesy of Washington Sea Grant

1 pound crab meat
Red bell pepper diced
1–2 large tablespoons Dijon mustard
1–2 large tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice (and a bit of zest)
Black pepper
2–3 eggs
1 cup panko breadcrumbs. (Might need more. Need to be able to form mixture into rounds)

Mix crab, red pepper, mustard, mayo, lemon juice, black pepper, and two eggs in a large bowl. Add one cup panko and mix. Check consistency. Add more egg or panko until you can form cakes. Place cakes on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes or when brown on top. Flip and bake another 15 minutes.

Can be served with a sauce made with ketchup, mayo, lemon or lime juice and horseradish.

Creamy Crab Dip

Courtesy of the Seafood Nutrition Partnership

2 six-ounce cans crab meat, drained
12-ounce cream cheese softened, 1 1/2 blocks
6 green onions, chopped
5 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese or mozzarella, divided
sliced green onions for garnish
crackers, chips, or crostini for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, onion, mayo, crabmeat, garlic powder, salt, and 1/2 of shredded cheese. Stir until well combined. Spread into a small 6-inch cast-iron skillet or one quart baking dish. Top with other 1/2 cup cheese. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven or until bubbly and hot. Turn the broiler on and broil until cheese on top is browned in spots. Remove from oven and let sit 5–10 minutes before serving.

Whole Washington Dungeness Crab

Courtesy of Washington Sea Grant

4 cooked Washington crabs, ~ 2 pounds each
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup (or two sticks) salted butter
1 teaspoon seafood seasoning
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup ketchup
1–2 teaspoon prepared horseradish
Fresh dill and parsley for garnish
Sliced lemon and limes

Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil; season with 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Once boiling, remove from heat. Immerse two Washington-harvested crabs into water for 5–10 minutes until they are warmed through. Remove crabs from water and set aside to drain. Bring water to a boil again and repeat with remaining Washington crabs. Clean, cooked crabs while the others are cooking in the hot water. Serve on a platter with fresh dill leaves, parsley, and sliced lemons and limes.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Reduce the heat to low and skim the foam from the butter. Stir in the seafood seasoning and the lemon juice. In a small bowl, mix the ketchup with the prepared horseradish. Serve the flavored butter and cocktail sauce alongside the Washington crab and enjoy!

Have another recipe in mind? Share it with us on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages using #LocalWASeafood.

When to enjoy local Washington seafood

Hint: Everyday! Visit wdfw.wa.gov/LocalWASeafood to learn more about in-season sustainable seafood and how the state and its partners are working to keep it on families’ tables, in the market, and on the menu.



The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.