Washington’s commercial Dungeness crab fishery will open in coastal waters Jan. 15 after a six-week delay, state shellfish managers announced today.

Fishery managers for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) approved the opening in coordination with fishery managers from Oregon and California.

Washington’s commercial fishery opening includes the waters from the mouth of the Columbia River north to Klipsan Beach, including Willapa Bay. Crabbers can set their pots in this area on Jan. 12. The area north of Klipsan Beach will open later in coordination with tribal co-managers.

WDFW delayed the fishery opening, initially scheduled Dec. 1, to allow more time for crabs to fill with meat and to coordinate coastal openings with Oregon and California. Fishery managers estimate crab will have adequate meat in their shells by Jan. 15 to proceed with the opening.

Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for WDFW, noted that the latest test results indicate Washington coastal crabs are safe to eat, remaining well below the public health action level for domoic acid, a natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae.

The Washington non-tribal commercial crab fishery was valued at $52 million during the 2016-17 season.

Recreational crabbing remains open in all of Washington’s coastal waters. The area north of Klipsan Beach will open later in coordination with tribal co-managers. Information about the sport fishery can be found on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/