Two South Sound crabbing areas will not open to fishermen this summer, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Thursday.
Marine areas 11 (Tacoma/Vashon Island) and 13 (south Puget Sound) will stay closed to allow Dungeness crab populations to rebuild.
Tribal commercial crab fisheries will also remain closed in those areas.
Crabbing seasons for the rest of Puget Sound are being developed by state and tribal co-managers. Those will be announced later in May.
"We are still working on setting crab seasons but wanted to give people early notice about these closures, which is a change from previous years," said Bob Sizemore, Puget Sound shellfish manager for the fish and wildlife department.
Sizemore does not anticipate other closures similar in scope to those announced Thursday.
Dungeness crab harvests have fallen 88-90 percent in marine areas 11 and 13 since the 2014-15 season, the fish and wildlife department said.
Water currents can carry young Dungeness crab from robust areas to depleted areas, Sizemore said. But it can take several years for them to reach the minimum harvestable size of 6 ¼ inches.
Factors contributing to the declining crab population could include reduced survival of crab larvae, a higher-than-normal mortality rate for juvenile crab, elevated surface water temperatures and other changing ocean conditions.
The department will post Puget Sound recreational seasons on its crab fishing website at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/.