This indicator tracks the annual estimate of recreational Dungeness crabbing by summarizing catch record card (CRC) data. Patterns in harvest are measured by the number of people participating in the recreational fishery and the total pounds caught per year. This indicator helps us understand people's access to nutritional, recreational, cultural, and place-based aspects of human wellbeing.
Total annual recreational Dungeness crab harvest estimates and number of Dungeness crab endorsement catch record cards (CRCs) issued in Puget Sound.
Key Vital Sign Indicator Results
Crabbing is one of Puget Sound’s most popular recreational fisheries. Each year over 200,000 people purchase a Puget Sound Dungeness crab endorsement card, which is required for recreational harvest.
Between 2007-2020 the greatest number of endorsements were issued in 2015 (243,934). Total harvest also peaked in 2015. That year recreational crabbers caught nearly 2.7 million pounds of Dungeness crab Sound-wide.
Dungeness crab catch is reported by 11 Puget Sound Marine Areas. Most of the annual recreational harvest comes from Marine Area 7 (covering the San Juan Islands and Bellingham Bay) and 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 for parts of Puget Sound. Total harvest and endorsements issued have also declined. 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 (encompassing Vashon Island and South Puget Sound) to any harvest in response to continued declines in the Dungeness crab population. Marine Area 11 was reopened to harvest on a limited basis in 2020. Harvest closures have also impacted Marine Areas 10 (Seattle-Bremerton area) and 12 (Hood Canal – South of Ayock Point) in recent years.