Crabbing in Bellingham Bay to open early

Dungeness crabs have passed through their annual spring shell molting faster than normal.For that reason, Marine Area 7 East including Bellingham and Samish bays will open to sport crab fishing at 7 a.m. on July 4, two weeks earlier that scheduled.

This opening will run Wednesdays through Saturdays each week with a daily bag limit of five male Dungeness (6 1/4 inches wide) and six red rock crab. Sport crabbers, regardless of age, must get a crab license endorsement, must carry their catch card and immediately record the Dungeness they retain.

Pot fishers also must have their traps out of the water each Saturday. Traps left soaking on closed days (Sundays and Mon-days) will be confiscated and their owners could be cited.

State shellfish managers announced the change Friday in a press release confirming the scheduled resumption of recreation crab fishing in seven other greater Puget Sound management zones.

The personal use catching of Dungeness and red rock crabs also will start in the San Juan Islands Wednesday as well as in Skagit Bay, Admiralty Inlet and all other Puget Sound waters.

The only area remaining closed will be waters off western Whatcom County known as marine area 7 North including Georgia Strait together with Birch and Boundary bays.

As a result of this early opening, greater Bellingham Bay crabbing will be stopped Sept. 3