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Washington Coast Waters Open to Crabbing, Fishing May 26

Published 05/23/2020 at 3:44 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Washington Coast Waters Open to Crabbing, Fishing May 26

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(Washington Coast) - Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) officials announced this week that Washington coast waters will reopen for fishing starting May 26, with crabbing on the Washington side of the Columbia River restarting that day as well. (Above: Willapa Bay area, courtesy Wallapa Harbor Visitors Center).

WDFW noted marine areas 1 through 3 will be open, not area 4. Halibut and razor clam harvest will remain closed in these areas for now due to continued port closures and concerns about the spread of coronavirus in local communities.

Areas 1 – 3 include Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor for bottomfish, shellfish, mussels, clams, oysters, and other species as described in the Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet. Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay) remains closed to all recreational fishing and shellfish harvesting.

WDFW continues to communicate with public health experts, port commissioners, and tribal co-managers regarding these opportunities in the future.

“We’ve continually said we will only open fisheries when local communities feel it is safe to do so, and with the full cooperation of public health officials,” said Larry Phillips, director of WDFW’s coastal region. “While not everything is reopening right away, this is a huge step toward returning to typical fishing seasons along the coast. Some of Washington’s best fishing takes place in the ocean, and we’re excited to see people getting back out there, even if the experience is somewhat different.”

The open marine areas include waters off Washington’s Pacific coast from the mouth of the Columbia River on the Washington-Oregon border north to Cape Alava on the Olympic Peninsula, as well as Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor.

Anglers should check ahead of time if their preferred destination or launch is open. Some local marinas or facilities – including tribal lands – remain closed, and anglers should be prepared to change plans if their first choice is closed or too congested.

Notably, the Makah and Quileute reservations, including marinas and all services, remain closed to visitors. Anglers should not attempt to access the ocean from these areas.

Additional fishery closures may be implemented if anglers attempt to launch from closed access sites.

WDFW said anglers will also need to adhere to state guidelines by sticking closer to their homes, traveling only with family or other members of their immediate household, and practicing physical distancing by keeping 6 feet apart.

“We’re reopening in consultation with local public health officials, and consistent with the governor’s phased approach,” Phillips said. “It’s extremely important that we all continue to do our part to keep ourselves and our communities safe and healthy.”

Digging for razor clams along the Washington coast is not allowed, just as with the Oregon coast. Governor Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order prohibits large gatherings through May 31. Razor clam digs can draw thousands to congregate in small coastal communities and on public beaches.

Along the state’s Puget Sound beaches (marine areas 5 – 13), harvesting of clams, mussels and oysters remains closed as well.

The Governor’s Office authorized guide and charter fishing services to reopen on May 14, though they are subject to a number of new requirements, including a limit on the number of passengers depending on their home county’s phase of reopening. More information about those requirements can be found at this pdf link.

See https://wdfw.wa.gov/






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