One final item to add to your summer crabbing checklist

Debbie Galbraith photo

Labor Day signals the end of summer across the U.S., and in Washington, marks another particular seasonal milestone: the end of summer crabbing. That means it’s time to look ahead to the winter season, but also time to submit your Puget Sound Dungeness crab catch record card (CRC).

Catch record cards for the summer season can be submitted now, and must be submitted by Oct. 1 for any crabbing that occurred between the season opener in July to when it closed on Sept. 5. You must report your catch even if you didn’t catch any crab.

Crabbers can submit CRCs online by logging in to WDFW’s online licensing system, or by mailing their physical copy to the address listed on the card. If you fail to submit your CRC, you must pay a $10 fee before purchasing another Puget Sound crab endorsement as part of your license.

The Puget Sound recreational crab fishery has used catch record cards since 2007 to help shellfish managers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) determine how many Dungeness crab are caught and kept in the sound every year.

Contrary to what some think, submitting your CRC doesn’t negatively affect future crabbing prospects, but actually improves it, according to Katelyn Bosley, lead Puget Sound crustacean biologist with WDFW.

“There are more than 225,000 Puget Sound crab license holders, and in 2021 only about 46 percent of those license holders returned their catch record cards,” said Bosley. “That represents a lot of uncertainty when estimating final catches for the year, and without that data we have to err on the side of caution to ensure future crabbing opportunities.”

That means that for every catch record card that isn’t returned, managers must use conservative estimates for how many crab may have been caught by that crabber. So even if someone only went crabbing once, or didn’t catch any crab at all in 2022 and just forgot to submit their CRC, managers must assume that they caught more crab than they did. Using these conservative estimates ensures the recreational fishery isn’t overharvesting crab in future years.

“We know people might forget to submit their CRC, but we urge everyone who purchased a crab endorsement to take the few minutes to fill out their card and share that data with us to improve future prospects,” Bosley said. “More complete data means more effective conservation and fishery management for these remarkable shellfish.”

Learn more about the Puget Sound crab CRC program at our website. If you have questions about submitting your crab CRC, contact our licensing division at 360–902–2464.

Any crab harvested Sept. 6 through Dec. 31 must be recorded on a winter CRC; winter CRCs are available for free at any license dealer in the state if you have a current Puget Sound crab endorsement. Be sure to visit our website for information about crabbing seasons and areas.

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The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

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