Coastal Crab | Recreationals Push To Expand Opportunity

The numbers are staggering: 300-1. That’s right, three hundred to one! For every single crab caught by recreational fishers in Washington coastal waters, the commercial fishery takes 300. Last month, Heather Reed (a WDFW Fisheries Director) presented the amazing totals:

Average catch 2002-2007
15,900,000# Commercial
49,800# Recreational

In an attempt to address this imbalance, the WDFW Commission is considering a proposal to give recreational fishermen two weeks of exclusive opportunity before the commercial seasons opens. By opening 15 days earlier there’s a likelihood of better weather for sport boats — and a chance to fish without gear conflicts between the recreational and commercial fleets. Even with these changes, the WDFW analysis is that “this change will not negatively affect the Dungeness crab resource.”

The commercial fleet has plenty of advantages today — rules permit commercials only to set pots 3 days prior to their season opener, their larger vessels are superior in winter conditions/unprotected waters, and they fish with professional expertise. The wide disparity in catch rates clearly demonstrates how significant the impacts of these are. Certainly they more than outweigh a couple weeks of exclusive recreational opportunity.

Will this change square the ledger? Not remotely. The commercial catch will still be hundreds of times greater than recreationals. Which is exactly why this change should be a no-brainer. Please take 10 seconds and send your thoughts to the WDFW Commissioners before their meeting next week!

Coastal Crab - Please Expand Recreational Access!

This petition is now closed.

End date: Oct 15, 2018

Signatures collected: 45

45 signatures


10 Comments on "Coastal Crab | Recreationals Push To Expand Opportunity"

  1. Matthew shorey | October 11, 2018 at 4:09 am | Reply

    There needs to be more of a balance in all our fisheries in this state. For to long we have been silent and just accepted the status quo, this is a public resource that needs to be shared by all in an equal manner. Sport fishers should always have their openings before commercial pots go into the water. I don’t even bother trying during the winter months anymore because the crabbing is so bad. Commercial pots gobble up the quota before we can even get a fair chance at them.

  2. K. Lee Whetham | October 11, 2018 at 3:14 pm | Reply

    Summer catch season makes us pull our sport gear for two days here in MA # 6, really looks like a setup for revenue from the folks that don`t follow these rules.

  3. Commercial Fishing generates US currency from a natural sustainable resource! Unlike “recreational” fishing where you just trade US dollars in the pursuit of enjoying an outing with friends and family and enjoy fresh seafood as a byproduct of your outdoor “recreational” experience. Besides, recreational crabbing is open year round,

    • We’ve approved your comment, Eric, but you do realize how crazy what you’re saying is, right? This “recreational fishing just moves $$ around” is the most ridiculous economic theory ever imagined. First, economic activity internal to the US is just as valuable as international trade when it comes to making jobs, supporting families, and generating tax dollars. There’s no magic to international trade. In fact, we’d argue that the natural resource you’re selling to foreign consumers actually belongs to the citizens of Washington. The highest and best use of that is clearly the one which generates the most economic activity and which benefits the most citizens of the state. Recreational fishing wins both of those measurements in a landslide.

  4. Not all US caught crab and/or seafood is sold to foreign countries. Yes, as of a few years ago the Chinese market has been a huge driver for crab prices, but for one, there is no Chinese market right now because of the new trade regulations and two, what is wrong with bringing back some of the U.S. currency that is held by China. Keep in mind, that when you go out to eat and get Dungeness crab in any shape or form, that crab came from the west coast. Asia is not exporting it to the US(unlike a lot of the tuna that is on the shelves). Anyone reading this who might recreational fish crab would agree, that it is nice being able to go out and have a meal prepared with Dungenss crab at a restaurant from time to time. That market CANNOT be replaced by legal “recreational” fishing. But first and foremost, creating jobs to make money from recreational fishing is trading dollars from one bank account to another period. What commercial fishing does is not any different from Logging, Farming, Mining, and any other industry which takes a natural resource and creates U.S. dollars! We are talking about “recreational” fishing. All legally liscensed people who wish to “recreate” can do so for crab all year round. I think people have forgotten what the word “recreate” means.

    Recreate definition, to refresh by means of relaxation and enjoyment, as restore physically or mentally.

    So if the season is open year round and a “recreational” crab fishermen is not happy with their outcome at the end of the day, then they should find some other means to “recreate” or in terms of the dictionary, find a new way to refresh themselves by means of relaxation and enjoyment to restore themselves physically or mentally.
    A person doesn’t have to limit out every time to be recreationally successful. Enjoy the day, enjoy the time spent with friends and family, enjoy your surroundings and be thankful for the things you have and the time you get to spend here in the present. That’s what recreational sports are all about. And in the Dungeness crab fishery, you can do that 365 days a year!

    • Eric, once again, you’re making NO SENSE here. Your “trading dollars from one bank account to another” is exactly, precisely, identically the same as you selling your crab domestically. The only difference (and the reason you care and are posting) is you are the receiver in this case. Recreational fishing does the same — generating economic activity off the renewable state resource — but does so with higher economic activity per fish/crab, and provides these benefits to a much wider array of state’s residents.

      Additionally, you know full well that the combined Non-Tribal Commercial fishery plus the Tribal fisheries (almost entirely commercial as well) so vastly outstrip the recreational harvest that the argument that somehow recreational fishing will somehow diminish the restaurant fare around this state — that’s nearly as crazy as your moving money around argument.

  5. So I guess you agree with me that this is a “recreational” fishery? Saying that recreational fishing can provide the same market distribution as a commercial market is absurd! That’s like saying we should have a recreational wheat harvest and that it would provide the same market coverage. Or better yet, we can sell our 10 bushel recreational harvest at a farmer’s market for more money than a farmer does to his commercial markets and that is the justification? Oh I know, we’ll factor in our gas and lunch that we bought in the big city on the way to the field but discredit the fact of the taxes, fuel local community contributions that the farmer provides?

    • Nobody is saying recreational fishing can match the market distribution of commercial. You’re pretending we’re saying that so you can be upset. What we’re saying, which is true by the way, is that recreational fishing generates vastly more economic benefit per crab taken than commercial, and distributes the benefits of that economic impact (including the taxes, boat launch fees, etc) much more widely among the citizens of Washington than commercial fishing.

      If you will look up the landed catch numbers for Tribal and Non-Tribal commercial fishermen annually, I think you’ll quickly conclude that a few weeks of recreational fishing in Willapa bay is a rounding error in all this. You can stop using that as your excuse to oppose these changes.

  6. I will leave you with some bullet points.
    1. I never said that I opposed the rule change as stated in your last response. In fact why isn’t Willapa bay and Grays Harbor not using the same guidelines as the Columbia river? That would be a much better argument than saying commercial fishing is ruining recreational access. My disappointment with your discussion is that you are demonizing commercial fishing. The only true generator of US currency in comparison to recreational fishing! You cannot create dollars within the state of Washington with your catch! There is no natural occurring resource in Washington that you are generating dollars from.
    2. There is absolutely no evidence that recreational fishing has more economic activity(we both can skew numbers to represent economic activity so don’t even start with any kind of preposterous studies by so called bipartisan analysts!).
    3. You stated that all crab are sold to foreign entities, WRONG!
    4. Comparing recreational to commercial(i.e. comment of the “300-1”.) is like comparing apples to oranges. It can’t be done. Recreational is based upon the idea of “recreational” access of which you have 365 days a year. Commercial fishing is just that, commercially harvesting a natural resource for the intent to create an economical benefit.
    5. You stated that crab belongs to the citizens of Washington state. So do you beleive we should stop selling out of state liscenses? And ultimately wouldn’t it make sense that this resource actually belongs to the counties in which they are caught(I’m just throwing that out there)?
    6. I truly beleive that if some recreational interests would actually use a more common sense approach to creating more opportunity for fishing then you would have a lot more support. But attacking commercial fishing and trying to compare a fleet of weekend warriors with the occasional retired hardcore guy to a fleet of “professional” men and women of this state is truly absurd when is comes to catch numbers. Recreational fishing can never financially replace commercial fishing and the local infrastructure that it creates! Without commercial fishing(and including charterboat fleets) in our local communities, there would be no marinas, canneries for ice and bait, gas stations, banks and reataurants. These entities have to have year round income in order to survive. Come on down to Westport, Tokeland and Ilwaco and ask the local businesses what would happen to their business plans if there was no commercial fleet. Any time you would like to come down I would be more than happy to take you around our community and introduce you and let you ask them for yourself.

    To close I would just like to say that there are better ways to ask for more opportunity other than saying “.3% is our share. That’s crazy!”. It’s like saying the logging companies take millions of board feet of lumber a year and all I get is 3 chords of wood. It’s apples to oranges. Makes no sense and you will never get commercial support going down that road. Thanks for the healthy debate. Now I’m going to go recreate and look for a deer. I’m just going to refresh by means of relaxation and enjoyment so I can restore myself both physically and mentally, even if I don’t shoot a deer! Because… I’m doing it recreationally!

    PS, You know… your 0.3% is another prime example of misinformation. There is no catch cards or prevelant catch information that could remotely support this claim. Coastal recreational crab has no catch report cards or monitoring by the state so your number is imaginary. Maybe you should just retype your headline to say 300-i. As i is an imaginary number.

    • Eric,

      As entertaining as this has been, this will be the final comment from either of us on this topic, but let’s do this point by point

      1. You posted factually incorrect, negative comments, on a post advocating a positive change. We Replied.
      2. Just becuase you don’t agree doesn’t mean there’s not plenty of actual proof. WDFW NMFS
      3. No, we actually didn’t say “all”, you can go back and read. You may have read it that way so you could be outraged, but that’s not what we said. Unless 100% of the commercial market is in-state, our point is accurate and correct.
      4. They both create economic benefit, you need to unstick yourself here. There’s no magic to your business–stop telling yourself that as it makes you look foolish. You catch fish and sell them for USD. Recreationals catch fish and spend USD in pursuit of them. Recreational USD are every bit as green and valuable as commercial USD. Except recreationals generate more economic activity for the same harvest.
      5. We do believe the crab belongs to the citizens of the state–because in fact that’s true. We think recreational fishing tourism is an incredible generator of economic benefits for coastal towns. People coming from Colorado and Montana to go crabbing or catch a salmon is something that hugely benefits the citizens of Washington.
      6. We absolutely are not in favor of eliminating commercial fishing in-state. Especially when Boldt protects the 50% of it that is Tribal (and largely commercial) already it seems ridiculously alarmist to assert we are doing so.

      p.s. Slide #1 here You can do the division yourself.

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