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Catch More Crab


Recreational crabber in Puget Sound

Crabbing is a popular activity in Washington for recreational crabbers. There are lots of Dungeness crabs in Puget Sound, and crabbing gear is affordable and accessible. However, pots are lost at an extraordinarily high rate and very few are retrieved.

Lost pots are a problem for the organisms living on the sea floor as well as crabs that get trapped in these lost pots. There are ways to rig a crab pot so it has a proper escape hatch in case it gets lost, but with an average of 12,000 pots lost per year, prevention is the best strategy.


The Northwest Straits Initiative works to reduce the loss of crab pots in Puget Sound by sharing information about best strategies to prevent a lost pot.

 Our partner Northwest Straits Foundation works regionally with Marine Resources Committees to coordinate local outreach. Learn more about their work here.

If you follow the tips below, you’re more likely to keep your pot and your friends will too, and there will be fewer lost pots in Puget Sound.


  • CHECK TIDES AND CURRENTS. Avoid crabbing during strong tidal changes and currents.
  • USE HIGH VISIBILITY BUOYS to clearly mark your gear.
  • USE A WEIGHTED LINE to sink below the surface and avoid being cut by passing boats.
  • WEIGHT YOUR POT so they do not move in high currents or tidal changes.
  • USE LONGER LINE. Use 1/3 more line than water depth to allow for changes in tides and currents
  • SECURE LID AND ESCAPE PANELS WITH BIODEGRADABLE COTTON ESCAPE CORD. This allows crabs to escape from lost pots after the cord degrades.


Additional Resources

Northwest Straits Foundation

WA Dept of Fish & Wildlife Crabbing information