Crab, crab everywhere but not a bite to eat

Crabbing is open in Canada year-round and crabbers are reporting a bountiful harvest of large hard-shelled crab this summer. The crab season opened for most of Washington’s inland waters in late June and early July, with the San Juan Islands and Bellingham opening on July 15.

Point Roberts crabbers will be waiting until August 17 to drop their pots.

“To open the crab season in a given area, we manage the three Ses: size, sex and softness,” said Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Don Velasquez. Crabbers can take male crab measuring 6.25″ minimum across the shell. Samples need to indicate that 80 percent of the crab have shells that have hardened after their annual molt.

“Our testing in years past shows it’s later in the season for the north part of Marine Area 7 for the samplers to get the 80 percent hard shells we need to open the season,” Velasquez said. “Most years we meet the 80 percent by mid August.”

Asked to explain why, with hard-shelled crab to the north and south of the Point, this area does not meet the standard to open the season, Velasquez said, “There is always variation within the larger area and we need to manage for the larger area. You can’t say Point Roberts will be exactly like Blaine or Birch Bay.”

That said, Velasquez admitted the state did not sample every year. The last time state samplers were out testing was “probably four years ago.” The department does share information with the tribes and he said the Lummi Nation had done some testing in the area.

“If we start noticing for the area as a whole they harden up earlier we can revisit that August date,” he said.

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