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|
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