This indicator tracks the annual estimate of Dungeness crabbing for personal use by summarizing catch record card (CRC) data. Personal use is defined here to include harvest for recreation, food security, cultural and family heritage, as well as other personal and emotional experiences. The indicator does not include tribal harvest. Harvest patterns are shown by the number of people participating and the total pounds of Dungeness crab caught per year in the non-tribal, noncommercial fishery.
Pounds of Puget Sound Dungeness crab harvested for personal use each year by marine basin and across Puget Sound. Each marine basin contains one or more Puget Sound Marine Areas (MA): Strait of Juan de Fuca (MA 4, 5, and 6), North Puget Sound (MA 7), Whidbey (MA 8-1 and 8-2), Hood Canal (MA 9 and 12), and South Central Puget Sound (MA 10, 11, and 13).
Key Vital Sign Indicator Results
Crabbing is one of Puget Sound’s most popular noncommercial fisheries. Each year over 200,000 people purchase a Puget Sound Dungeness crab endorsement card, which is required to harvest crab for personal use.
Between 2007 and 2021, harvest for personal use peaked in 2015. That year crabbers caught nearly 2.7 million pounds of Dungeness crab across Puget Sound. Harvest has since declined and in 2021 crabbers caught just under 1.6 million pounds.
Most of the annual harvest comes from two marine basins: North Puget Sound which includes Marine Area 7 (covering the San Juan Islands and Bellingham Bay) and the Whidbey Basin which includes Marine Areas 8-1 and 8-2 (covering east of Whidbey Island including Skagit Bay and Port Susan).
Since 2015 an increasing number of harvest closures have been required within South-Central Puget Sound and Hood Canal. As a result, total harvest has declined, and the progress of this indicator is determined to be “Getting Worse”.
In 2018 Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Tribal Co-Managers closed Marine Areas 11 and 13 in the South-Central Puget Sound Basin to any harvest. The closures were in response to continued declines in the Dungeness crab population. Marine Area 11 was reopened to harvest on a limited basis in 2020 and 2021. Harvest closures have also impacted crabbing in Marine Areas 10 (Seattle-Bremerton area) and 12 (Hood Canal – South of Ayock Point) in recent years.