A crab pot with a haul of Dungeness and red rock crab from Puget Sound. The underside of this pot is weighted with rebar and iron disc weights to avoid drifting in the current. Photo by Chase Gunnell.

Crabbers: properly label your gear and don’t drop pots in ferry lanes


And don’t forget to submit your Puget Sound Dungeness crab catch record card either the paper copy or report online, event if you didn’t go crabbing!

The summer recreational crabbing season is in full swing in many marine areas! In Puget Sound, crabbers should avoid deploying their gear in ferry lanes or marina entrances and other high traffic areas.

Crab pots and gear in ferry lanes have caused serious damage to Washington State Ferries in past years. Ferries were temporarily disabled after crab lines tangled in the propeller shafts of the vessels led to costly repairs and lengthy delays for ferry travelers.

Here are some tips to have a successful crab fishing experience and avoid problems with ferries:

  • Add Weight to Lines — Propellers can sever or wrap up a line floating along the surface. Use sinking lines when possible or add weight to keep floating lines off the surface.
  • Know Water Depth — The easiest way to lose a pot is to drop one in water deeper than the length of line attached. Use a line that is one-third longer than the water depth to keep pots from floating away.
  • Watch Pots — Stay close to dropped crab pots to ensure all are accounted for at the end of the day.
  • Add Extra Weights to Crab Pots — In many instances, adding just 10 pounds of weight can help recreational crab pots stay put.
  • Use Escape Cord — Biodegradable cotton cord, which is required on all pots, will degrade and allow crabs to escape if a pot is lost.

More responsible crabbing tips and videos can be found on the Northwest Straits Initiative’s Catch More Crab campaign.

Crabbers should also be certain to properly mark their buoys with all the information required by law, including first name, last name, and address. This is required for regulations enforcement (telephone number is voluntary) and allows our Shellfish staff, WDFW Police, and partners to return salvaged pots to their owners.

Below are examples of lost crab gear we are unable to return to the owners due to improper marking.

Learn more about crabbing in Washington at: wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/basics/recreational-crabbing-puget-sound

Unlabeled lost crab bouys and pots. WDFW Shellfish unit staff work with law enforcement and local partners to salvage and return as many lost pots as possible. With no information listed (which is required under the state crabbing regulations), this gear will be donated to local community organizations.



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.