Recreational Crabber Education

Recreational Crabber Education

Keep Your Crab Pot, Eat More Crabs

12,000 crab pots are lost each year in Puget Sound.  These pots trap and kill 178,000 harvestable crabs.  Follow these simple steps to decrease your chance of losing your crab pots.

  • Use Escape Cord
    Biodegradable cotton cord will degrade and reduce the number of crabs wasters by 30 or more per year if a pot becomes lost.
  • Use Weighted Line
    Propellers can sever your line if it is floating on the surface.
  • Use More Line
    Use a line that is 1/3 longer than the water depth you are crabbing.
  • Know the Water Depth
    The easiest way to lose a pot is to toss one over the side in water that is too deep.  Use nautical charts and a depth finder to assess water depths.
  • Watch Pots Never Roam
    Stay by your crab pots and you are likely to come back with all of them at the end of the day.
  • Harvest Only Males 6 1/4 Inches or Larger
    These are the only crabs considered to be harvestable so the rest can maintain the population.

Visit the Northwest Straits Commission page with information on how to use biodegradable escape cord

Watch this video by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife about recreational crabbing in Puget Sound

Project Overview

In 2010 and 2011, the MRC Dungeness Crabber subcommittee continued to work on outreach materials to reduce the number of recreational crab pots lost in Port Susan, Possession Sound and Port Gardner during the 2010 crabbing season.  The principle outreach message was “Keep Your Crab Pot, Eat More Crabs.” 

To convey this message, a laminated nautical chart was developed.  The chart features reminders for best management practices and notes potential hazards that can increase the likelihood of pot loss.  The nautical charts were distributed to recreational crabbers at boat launches, sporting good stores, and area parks.  WSU Beach Watcher volunteers spoke with crabbers about hazards and best practices to avoid losing crab pots.  These face-to-face contacts are essential to reducing the number of crab pots lost annually in Puget Sound.  

In July, 2015 the MRC launched a social marketing photography contest to help raise awareness on various different sustainable crabbing practices. The MRC selected eight Best Management Practices (BMPs) to be the focus for this campaign. Recreational crabbers were encouraged to post photographs of these best crabbing practices on Instagram, using the hashtag #CatchMoreCrabSnoCo. The contest ran through the 38-day summer recreational crabbing season. During the event, the MRC posted 124 photos and awarded prizes to five randomly selected participants. The NWSC is planning to expand this model program to other MRC’s throughout the state and provide staff support to conduct this social marketing campaign in 2016.

NWSC Benchmarks Achieved:
Education & Outreach, Marine Life, Marine Habitat

Derelict Gear

High school volunteer, Taylor Brown created the You-Tube video Derelict Gear – What can YOU do?  The video contains information on crab pot escape cords and derelict gear.

Visit to lear about removal efforts and how to report derelict gear.

Recreational Crabber Education