LONG BEACH — Recreational Dungeness crabbing using pot gear will open Nov. 15 in Willapa Bay (Marine Area 2-1), two weeks earlier than the usual Dec. 1 opening for this area. The bay is open to recreational crabbing year-round using gear other than pots.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the earlier opening for the recreational crab season using pot gear in Willapa Bay at a meeting Oct. 15. The earlier opening for pot gear will provide some additional opportunity for recreational crabbers before the opening of the commercial Dungeness crab fishery in this area.

Willapa Bay is a significant fishery for the commercial crabbing fleet, producing nearly 624,000 pounds in landings during the 2017-18 season, or around 5 percent of the Washington state total. The 2017-18 season in Willapa produced almost exactly the bay’s 10-year average of commercial landings. The ocean catch-reporting area from Westport south to North Jetty is by far Washington’s top crabbing ground, with 6.675 million in 2017-18 commercial landings, down from 9.05 million the preceding year. The 10-year average for the south coastal zone is 6.45 million pounds.

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