Residents who like to set pots for spot shrimp in South Sound waters will see seasons that are mostly similar to last year’s.
Overall, recreational shrimp fishermen will get more days to fish and a larger share of the catch in areas of Puget Sound under fishing seasons announced by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
This year’s sport fishery, set to begin May 4, run from one day to several weeks longer in various areas of the Sound, due to policy changes recently adopted by the state Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Under the new policy, 70 percent of the nontribal spot shrimp harvest is now allocated to the sport fishery, said Rich Childers, shellfish manager. In past years, the nontribal harvest was divided approximately evenly between recreational and commercial fisheries.
Recreational shrimp fishers will see a real difference in the length of this year’s seasons, particularly in the San Juan Islands and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Childers said.
In the San Juans, the policy change will raise the sport fishery’s share of the catch from 15 percent to 80 percent. To accommodate that change, the department split Marine Area 7-North into two subareas – 7 West and 7 South – each with its own season.
Under the higher sport quota, Childers said the new Marine Area 7-West could be open for more than a month this year, up from six days of fishing in those waters last year. The spot shrimp fishery in Marine Areas 7 East and 7 South, also open six days last year, is expected to run 13 days during the 2013 season, he said.
The shrimp season in Marine Area 6 in the Strait of Juan de Fuca will also be expanded by several weeks under the new allocation policy. The sport fishery’s share of the catch in those waters increased from 15 percent to 22 percent this year.
The sport fishery in Hood Canal has received 100 percent of the state shrimp allocation in previous years, so it is not affected by the change in the commission’s policy, Childers said. However, sport shrimpers will have five days to fish — up from four days last year — because stock trends have been healthy in recent years, he said.
Childers said the new policy does increase sport fishing allocations in other areas of central Puget Sound, but the department will determine whether that will translate into additional fishing days during the course of the season.
“The question is whether the higher catch shares will be enough to add a third day of fishing in those areas,” he said in a prepared statement. “We’ll be watching the catch totals during the season and will make that decision on an area-by-area basis.”
Puget Sound recreational shrimp season opening days are:
Hood Canal Shrimp District (Marine Area 12): Open from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on May 4, 8, 15, 18 and 22.
Discovery Bay Shrimp District (Marine Area 6): Open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. on May 4, 8, 15, 18 and 22.
Marine areas 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5, 6 and 13 (excluding Discovery Bay Shrimp District): Open daily beginning May 4 at 7 a.m. The season closes when the quota is attained or Sept. 15, whichever comes first. The exception is Marine Area 13, which closes for spot shrimp May 31. For waters of the deep South Sound, the season setup is the same as last year.
Marine Area 7 East and South: Open May 4 at 7 a.m. for a one-day fishery and will reopen May 8-11, May 15-18, May 29-June 1.
Marine Area 7 West: Open May 4 at 7 a.m., open Wednesday-Saturday each week until June 1. After June 1, the area will be open Thursday-Saturday each week until the quota is reached or Sept. 15, whichever comes first.
Marine Areas 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10 and 11: Open May 4 and May 8 from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. The Tacoma area was open two days last season as well.
Additional dates and times will be announced if sufficient quota remains after the initial fishing days scheduled above. THE Spot shrimp: Also known as prawns, they are the largest shrimp found in Puget Sound. They can grow to 9 inches long.
Limits and licenses: In all areas of Puget Sound, fishers are limited to 80 spot shrimp per day and a valid 2013-14 fishing license is required to participate in the fishery.
New areas: A map of the new subareas is available on the state’s shrimp fishing webpage at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/shrimp/12.
Online: For a description of the marine areas and fishing rules, see the department’s shrimp fishing website at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/shrimp.