The Puget Sound Commercial Crab Fishery has been part of the heritage of Washington State since around 1848. Hard working, independent fishermen harvesting crab to be purchased and consumed by the general public as well as protecting the resource for over one hundred years knowing that good stewardship and conservation is the key to the future of the resource.
The state commercial fishery increased from 89 vessels participating in 1972 to more than 400 in 1979. To keep the fishery economically viable for those participating, the legislature limited the state commercial crab fishery in Puget Sound to 250 licenses in 1980 (each license is allowed to use a maximum of 100 crab pots).
No new licenses have been issued since 1980, and in 2002 the state commercial fishery was comprised of 181 crab fishers holding the 250 licenses. With increased participation of the recreational fishery and inadequate management practices by the state, commercial fishers have found it necessary to hold more permits as individuals to keep the fishery viable. In 2012 the 249 permits were held by just 145 individuals.
The Association has always had a conservation first Policy to protect the resource into the future.
We were responsible for proposing bio-degradable rot chords as well as escape ring size increase.
We suggested the crab size limit be increased to 6 1/4 from 6, we requested that name tags be attached to pots and identity tags be attached to buoys. We also promoted the (CRC) recreational catch record card reporting system and helped design it.
In more recent years we have worked with the Northwest Straights Foundation in an effort to help reduce the number of crab pots that get lost every year and promote recovery of derelict gear. While the vast majority of derelict gear is recreational in origin we feel as stewards of the resource it is our obligation to help in these efforts.
We have also participated on the board of the MRAC (Marine Resources Advisory Council) to help determine what the long term impacts of Ocean Acidification will have on not only our industry but all marine life.
The Association long term goals are to maintain an economically viable fishery for our future and to protect and secure the resource for all future generations.
To work closely with the State Managers and Wildlife Commission and Treaty Tribes to reach a better understanding of the impacts that each user group presents to the resource.
While many feel we are at odds with the recreational fishers, this could not be further from the truth as the vast majority of commercial fishers are sportsmen as well. We as commercial fishers however recognize the need for accurate accounting of harvest by all user groups as this is the only way to ensure a healthy and sustainable resource for all. We have appealed to the Wildlife Commission on numerous occasions to move to a real-time reporting system for the recreational fishery to bring them up to the same standards held by commercial and tribal fishers.