Crab & Shrimp
Dungeness Crab (Cancer magister)
For most Pacific Northwest Tribes, Dungeness crab is an important resource, both in terms of commercial and subsistence harvest. This is no different for the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe and, as such, Natural Resources does everything it can to ensure the protection of the resource.
Like other shellfish species, the harvest of Dungeness crab is shared equally between treaty Indian tribes and non-tribal fishers under a 1994 federal court ruling known as the “Rafeedie Decision.” The State and Tribes work together as co-managers to help protect the resource while providing harvest opportunity.
Dungeness crab, like other state fish resources, is managed to protect the species for seven generations while providing a sustainable harvest. State and tribal fishery managers use a “3-S strategy” to determine the portion of the Dungeness crab population that can be harvested on a sustainable basis. The 3-S strategy considers:
- Size: Only crab that are 6¼ inches or larger can be harvested, allowing smaller male crab the opportunity to mate at least once before they are taken in the fishery.
- Sex: Only male crab can be harvested, to protect egg-bearing females for propagation.
- Season: The fishery is closed during the peak crab molt cycle, when Dungeness crab shells are soft and handling could kill the animals.
Puget Sound is divided into six crab-management regions. PGST tribal members have U&A within four of the regions. Once quotas are agreed to between the Tribes and the State, the opening dates are negotiations between the Tribes with fishing rights within a region. The goal is to provide opportunity throughout the season with a high price.
The shrimp resource in Puget Sound is managed for the harvest of pandalid shrimp. The primary shrimp species harvest by Port Gamble S’Klallam fishers is the spot shrimp. There are other non-spot shrimp (Pink, Coonstripe, Sidestripe and Humpy to name a few) that are also harvested by the tribal and non-tribal harvesters.
The Shrimp fishery is managed according to species, gear type, and regions. The shrimp fishery is managed to protect smaller males (which later become females) and ovigerous (egg-bearing) females. The shrimp pot fishery is conducted using shrimp pots with rot cord for conservation measures. Shrimp gear (7/8 inch mesh) allows for the escapement of small males. The pot fishery season is opened from April 15 through September 15 of each year in most areas with Hood Canal being the exception of May 1 through August 30. However, harvest seasons may be adjusted if test fisheries for ovigerous females are conducted.
The spot shrimp fishery is opened when 97% of the females sampled have released their eggs. State and Tribal allocations are based on an equal sharing of the estimated harvestable surplus. The harvestable surplus of spot shrimp is based on an average of the historical harvest with adjustments based on recent fishery performance. There are separate allocation for spots and non-spot shrimp. The actual shrimp population varies from year to year and region to region.