The Puget Sound recreational shrimp fishery will open a week later than usual when the season gets underway May 14.
Shellfish managers with the Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife are delaying the opening due to the extremely low tides that are expected to occur midday May 7. The first Saturday in May traditionally marks the start of the season throughout Puget Sound.
In the Tacoma Narrows, for example, the low tide May 7 will be -2.4 feet at 12:23 p.m. At Budd Inlet in Olympia, the low tide that day will be -2.6 feet at 12:57 p.m. At Seabeck on Hood Canal, the low tide will be -2.5 feet at 12:01 p.m.
Such extreme low tides are great for exploring beaches, but they also mean many boat ramps around Puget Sound will be unusable for several hours and shrimping conditions will be poor, said Mark O’Toole, shellfish biologist for the WDFW.
“We’re pushing the season opener to May 14 to allow shrimpers to get the most out of the limited number of days that many marine areas, including Hood Canal, are open each year,” O’Toole said in a prepared statement.
Extreme low tides on traditional opening day mean many boat ramps around Puget Sound will be unusable for several hours and shrimping conditions will be poor, according to Mark O’Toole, state shellfish biologist.
The state said it was announcing the change now to give fishermen time to adjust motel or moorage reservations and vacation requests, he said.
In the past, the department has adjusted shrimp fishing days later in the season to avoid significantly low tides, but not the season opening date. After 2016, there will not be another extreme low tide on the first Saturday in May until 2021.
The agency is waiting to announce the dates for the remainder of the season in each marine area until the final 2016 harvest quotas have been determined. That will likely be sometime in February.
“In general, we expect shrimping opportunities in most marine areas to be similar to last year,” O’Toole said in the statement.
For more information on sport shrimp seasons, or for a description of marine areas, go to wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/shrimp.
Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640