Keeping it friendly on the water
Anglers, harvesters encouraged to follow the rules, keep it courteous during busy summer season in Puget Sound
With fishing and shellfishing in full swing and recreational boaters out enjoying the summer weather, the waters of Puget Sound are brimming with activity this time of year.
Summer fisheries in Puget Sound include recreational salmon, crab, and shrimp, state commercial shrimp, and treaty crab and shrimp fisheries. Boaters and harvesters alike may experience congestion on fishing grounds and at access points during this popular outdoor season, and it’s important to keep things friendly on our shared waters and access sites.
“This is a busy time of year throughout Puget Sound, and anyone looking to get on the water should be prepared for high traffic at boat ramps and other access points,” said Don Velasquez, WDFW crustacean biologist. “It’s important to be patient and respectful of fellow boaters, and to check policies for parking and ramp use ahead of time to ensure you’re prepared for your trip.”
Know the rules, have the right gear
On the shellfishing front, recreational harvesters will have the opportunity to participate in both crab and shrimp fisheries during the month of July, with spot shrimp reopening in select Puget Sound marine areas on July 14.
With so many different fishing activities taking place at the same time, it’s especially important for shellfish harvesters to be aware of gear rules to avoid potential fines or lost equipment.
“These gear-marking rules help us enforce the fishery regulations and identify what activities different fishery participants are engaged in,” said Velasquez.
WDFW patrols are actively removing traps during days that are closed to crab or shrimp fishing. The traps recovered so far this season indicate that many recreational crabbers and shrimpers may need a reminder about legal buoy colors and properly identifying the person fishing each trap on their buoys.
All buoys attached to recreational shrimp traps must be yellow or fluorescent yellow in color. All buoys attached to recreational crab traps must be 1/2-red and 1/2-white in color.
All recreational buoys must have the full name and mailing address of the person fishing the trap written legibly on the buoy. This allows WDFW to enforce the rule limiting recreational harvesters to two crab traps and two shrimp traps per day.
It also allows for lost traps to be potentially reunited with the owners. Anyone who has lost a crab or shrimp trap should report the details to WDFW online.
It’s also against the law for any person to set or pull a shellfish pot that isn’t attached to a buoy bearing that person’s name, except that a second person may assist the pot owner in operation of the gear.
Setting or pulling a shrimp or crab pot that doesn’t belong to you could carry up to a $500 fine.
Recreational harvesters should check the WDFW website for complete harvesting and reporting requirements — and the latest updates — before heading out.
Be Whale Wise
Anyone out on the water should also follow Be Whale Wise regulations to help protect endangered Southern Resident killer whales (SRKW). Recreational vessels must stay at least 300 yards from SRKWs and at least 400 yards out of their path or behind the whales. Vessels must also reduce their speed to 7 knots within one-half nautical mile of a Southern Resident killer whale. Anglers are also encouraged to watch for the Whale Warning Flag, an optional tool from the San Juan County Marine Resources Committee, that lets others know that there might be whales nearby. If you see the flag, slow down and follow guidelines. For more details, visit BeWhaleWise.org.
Upcoming shellfishing opportunities in Puget Sound
Scheduled recreational shrimp fisheries
- Marine Area 6 (Port Angeles Harbor, eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca, excluding the Discovery Bay Shrimp District): July 14 through 17 and July 28 through 31. Daylight hours. Only 1-inch mesh pots may be used on days when spot shrimp is open.
- Marine Area 7 East (northern Rosario Strait, Bellingham Bay, Sucia and Matia islands, Strait of Georgia): July 14 through 17. Daylight hours. Only 1-inch mesh pots may be used on days when spot shrimp is open.
- Marine Area 7 West (San Juan Channel, Speiden Channel, Stuart and Waldron islands): July 14 through 17 and July 28 through 31. Daylight hours. Only 1-inch mesh pots may be used on days when spot shrimp is open.
- Marine Area 7 South (Iceberg Point, Point Colville, Biz Point, Salmon Bank): July 14 through 17. Daylight hours. Only 1-inch mesh pots may be used on days when spot shrimp is open.
- Marine Areas 8-1 (Saratoga Passage, Deception Pass) and 8-2 (Port Susan, Port Gardner, Everett): Open from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. on July 14. Pot limit of 2 pots per boat. Only 1-inch mesh pots may be used on days when spot shrimp is open.
Scheduled recreational crab fisheries
- Marine Areas 4 (Neah Bay east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (East Juan de Fuca Strait), 8–1 (Deception Pass), 8–2 (Port Susan/Everett), and 9 (Port Gamble and Admiralty Inlet): Open July 1 - Sept. 6, Thursdays - Mondays.
- Marine Area 7 South (San Juan Islands/Bellingham): Open July 15 - Sept. 30, Thursdays - Mondays.
- Marine Area 7 North (Gulf of Georgia): Open Aug. 19 - Sept. 30, Thursdays - Mondays.
- Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton): Open July 11 - Sept. 6. Sundays/Mondays only.
- Marine Area 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island): Open July 11 - August 30. Sundays/Mondays only.
- Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal) north of a line projected true east from Ayock Point: Open July 1 - Sept. 6, Thursdays-Mondays