Commercial crabbers in southern Pacific County and along the Columbia can begin setting their gear this Friday, while anyone north of Klipsan Beach, including Westport, will have to wait a few weeks.
In a letter sent out by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, they say that the season will open at 9:00 am, January 28, with a 73-hour gear preset beginning at 8:00 am January 25.
The letter states;
“ WDFW and Quinault managers met on January 10, 2018 to review catch data from the first 31 days of the Quinault fishery. Based on that information and the sliding scale agreed to for the 2017-2018 season, Quinault will get a 49-day head start which results in a state season opening in the area between Klipsan Beach and the US/Canada border on January 28, 2018.”
Following concerns about the amount of meat in the Pacific Coast crab, the seasons in Washington, Oregon, and California were delayed to give time for the shellfish to mature.
In late December, WDFW announced that Washington crabbers from the Columbia to Klipsan Beach will be able to set traps as of this Friday, and pull them starting January 15.
All areas north of Klipsan Beach had a delayed opening as fishery managers worked to coordinate with tribal co-managers.
Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for WDFW, noted that the latest test results indicate Washington coastal crabs are safe to eat, remaining well below the public health action level for domoic acid, a natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae.
The southern coast suffered a 6 week delay, while north coast anglers are on an 8 week delay after the commercial fishery on Washington’s coast typically opens December 1.