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Crab catch records required as of April 1

"Recreational fishers for Dungeness crab are now required to record their catch in much the same way those who fish for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and halibut have done in the past.Harvesters will keep a catch record for crab and the other four fisheries on a single card, reducing the amount of paperwork fishers must carry According to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the new reporting requirement for Dungeness crab is designed to give state fisheries managers a more accurate picture of the recreational harvest to ensure a fair allocation of crab among sport, commercial and tribal fishers.The new reporting requirements for Dungeness crab are as follows:* Recreational crabbers must record their catch on their cards - in ink - immediately upon retaining crab on their boat or on shore. This allows divers and waders to record crab catch once they have landed the crab at a secure location.* Completed catch cards must be returned by April 30, 2001 to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) headquarters in Olympia or one of the agency's six regional offices. (The address of the agency headquarters is on the back of the catch record.) Anglers may not turn in catch cards to local dealers as they have in the past.The new catch reporting requirement for crab was adopted in response to legislation approved in 1999 calling for a more accurate account of the recreational crab harvest. Both tribal and non-tribal commercial fishers are required to report their catch through the fish-ticket system. In the past, reporting by recreational crabbers has been strictly voluntary, making it difficult to accurately assess the annual catch by recreational fishers.The new reporting system, in conjunction with in-season phone surveys, will provide WDFW with the information it needs to accurately estimate the recreational harvest by area and type of fishery (wade, dive, pot, ringnet and dock). This in turn will allow the department to structure seasons that ensure an equitable allocation of the catch between recreational and commercial fishers, while also protecting the resource and assuring a 50-50 division with the tribes as required by the courts.The existing voluntary crab log system currently used by DFW will remain in place to provide additional information to crab managers during the first years of the new system. This means some crabbers will need to fill out two catch records for all crab retained: 1) All crab harvesters will be required to complete the new catch record card, and 2) some will be required to fill out the survey log attached to some crab buoys. "

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