Close-Up of crab on beach

Sustainable Crabbing

Preventing Unecessary Crab Losses

Interesting Fact

3Years for a Dungeness Crab to Mature See Our Impact
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For over a decade, our volunteers have helped the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the NW Straits Foundation educate local crabbers about the issues impacting local Dungeness Crab species. Over 120,000 crab pots are lost in Puget Sound every year. These pots continue to trap and kill crabs which is called ghost fishing. Every year it is estimated 180,000 harvestable crabs are lost.

You will find Sound Water Stewards around the opening day of crabbing season distributing brochures, biodegradable cord, crab gauges, and educational materials to crabbers at boat launches and to local stores that sell fishing gear and licenses.

We promote Crabbing 101 classes in which recreational crabbers learn best practices for not losing their crab pots. Ghost fishing crab deaths can be prevented by using biodegradable cotton escape cords to make sure crabs can exit the trap if it gets lost. Check out these great tips from the Northwest Straits Foundation so you can catch more crab!

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  • CHECK TIDES AND CURRENTS. Avoid crabbing during strong tidal changes and currents.
  • USE HIGH VISIBILITY BUOYS to clearly mark your gear.
  • USE A WEIGHTED LINE to sink below the surface and avoid being cut by passing boats.
  • WEIGHT YOUR POT so it does not move in high currents or tidal changes (add a brick or rebar).
  • USE LONGER LINE. Use 1/3 more line than water depth to allow for changes in tides and currents
  • SECURE LID AND ESCAPE PANELS WITH BIODEGRADABLE COTTON ESCAPE CORD. This allows crabs to escape from lost pots after the cord degrades.

WDFW Video: Monitoring Crab

WDFW Shellfish Regulations

Video from Puget Sound Crab Biologists