EVERETT — Each year, crabbers lose about 12,000 pots in Puget Sound, according to a Snohomish County news release. That’s nearly 180,000 captured crab left at the bottom of the sea.
With the crab season set to open Thursday, the county and marine conservationists have some tips to avoid getting your line tangled in a ferry propeller, losing a pot or getting your boat stuck at the launch.
■ Avoid marine transit and ferry lanes
■ Check tides and currents: Avoid crabbing during strong tidal changes and currents.
■ Make buoys more visible by using two or adding a stick and flag.
■ Use a weighted line to sink below the surface and avoid being cut by passing boats.
■ Weight your pots so they don’t move in high currents or tidal changes.
■ Use one-third more line than needed to allow for tidal changes.
■ Secure lid and escape panels with biodegradable cotton escape cord so crabs can escape from lost pots after the cord degrades.
■ Stay with your pots.
In Everett, negative tides, which occur when the sea level dips below the average low tide level, are expected Thursday through Sunday.
Launching out of the 10th Street boat launch with a low tide like that “can be very difficult, if not impossible,” said Elisa Dawson, a member of the Snohomish County Marine Resources Committee. “Last year, there were a few people who got stuck, so it’s really important to look at the tides and be aware.”
On the water, avoid dropping pots near transit routes.
Crab pot lines can get caught in ferry propellers, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage and canceling some ferry services.
Entanglements are less common now than they were a few years ago, said Ian Sterling, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation. But it’s still an easy way to lose your gear, he said.
In previous years, the Marine Resources Committee has sent volunteers to the county’s boat launches for education and outreach. They’ll be staying home this year — another annual activity canceled due to COVID-19.
“We wish everyone a good crabbing season,” Dawson said. “It’s a great way to get outside right now.”