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  • Writer's pictureAlly Galiotto

Spring 2023 ~ Newsletter

Updated: May 9, 2023

Larval Crab Monitoring

The 2023 larval crab monitoring season has officially begun! We welcomed 4 new light trap sites to the network this year – Gooseberry Point (Lummi Tribe), Neah Bay (Makah Tribe), Tokeland (Shoalwater Bay Tribe), and Westport (WDFW) – bringing our season total to 20 monitoring sites in Washington and 20 in British Columbia, which are coordinated through Hakai Institute’s Sentinels of Change initiative.

The new outer coast sites started out with a bang, with Tokeland catching a Dungeness megalopa (Fig. 1) on their first night of sampling on April 5, 2023! This is the earliest Dungeness detection across the PCRG Network over the past four years of monitoring (Table 1). The excitement continued when three Dungeness megalopae were recorded at Point Wilson (run by PTMSC) on April 23, 2023, which is the earliest detection that site has seen to date, and the first Salish Sea megalopae observation of the season. Check out the map (Fig. 2) to see where else we’ve detected Dungeness so far this season!

In related news, Hakai Magazine recently published a great article about larval crab monitoring in BC – read it here! Shining the Light on Baby Crabs | Hakai Magazine

Figure 1. First recorded M. magister megalopa of the 2023 season. Captured April 5, 2023 in the Tokeland light trap (managed by the Shoalwater Bay Tribe and WDFW) on the outer coast. Photo by Emily Buckner.

Figure 2. Map of 2023 PCRG light trap

locations in Washington. Sites in red (TOK,

PTW, ROS, COR) recorded their first

Dungeness megalopae of the season on

April 5, 23, 26, and 26, respectively.

Table 1. Date and light trap location of the earliest recorded Dungeness megalopa for each year of monitoring (2019-2023).


Genetics Study

Sampling for the current genetics project – funded by the NOAA Saltonstall-Kennedy program and led by Jay Dimond (WWU, Lead PI), Katelyn Bosley (WDFW, Co-PI), Sarah Grossman (Swinomish, Co-PI), Liz Tobin (Jamestown S’Klallam, Co-PI), and Emily Buckner (PSRF, key personnel) – is underway! Ultimately, this study will generate crucial data on population structure that is needed to move towards biologically-based management in the Dungeness crab fishery, with the overarching goal to promote long-term sustainability.

This spring and fall, PCRG partners will sample adult and larval crabs from 12 sites across all Puget Sound management regions, as well as one comparative site on the outer coast. Thank you to all the tribes, agencies, organizations, and crabbers who are making this collaborative sampling effort possible!

After genomic sequencing and analysis are complete, the genetics team will bring their findings to fishery managers and other stakeholders to tackle their final objective: assessing current management approaches and evaluating options for maximizing harvest and sustainability.


Fishery Independent Survey

PCRG is working to build the capacity to pilot an adult crab survey in one of Puget Sound’s management regions. Population assessment was ranked as the most important management topic by PCRG members in 2020, and implementing a fishery independent survey would provide an invaluable data stream on Dungeness population status, structure, and dynamics in the Salish Sea. While a recent proposal to the SeaDoc Society was unsuccessful, the proposal team is working to find other proposal venues and push this work forward.


Crabber and Scientist Exchange

This year, PCRG is planning two CASE events – one in Bellingham and one in Port Townsend. The first event was held at the Squalicum Boathouse in Bellingham on Monday, April 24. Read the highlights below!

  • Jay Dimond (WWU) and Liz Tobin (Jamestown S’Klallam) shared an overview of the S-K Genetics study (described above), and interested crabbers were invited to sign up to help with fall genetics sampling. During an interactive activity, meeting participants got together with their table groups to brainstorm where and when they find crab in Puget Sound and how they think crab might move through the region, annotating a map with their observations.

  • Hans Radtke (OR Natural Resource Ecologist) presented a comprehensive overview of Dungeness crab market economics in Oregon, summarizing the trends of increasing supply and decreasing prices over the past year.

  • Jenna Keeton (WSG) introduced the 6th edition of the WSG Fisherman’s Direct Marketing Manual, which will be released in the spring of 2024. This manual acts as a guide for fishers interested in selling directly to consumers, and synthesizes over 30 years of knowledge obtained across CA, OR, WA, and AK. The new edition contains information on social media marketing, online point-of-sale platforms, sustainable and recyclable packaging, and shipping logistics.

Figure 3. PCRG CASE event in Bellingham on April 24, 2023. (L) Photo by Julie Barber. (R) Photo by Emily Buckner.


Save the Date! The Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) conference will be held in Portland from November 12-16. PCRG is hosting a session – “Research for sustainable crab fisheries management” – and we encourage you to attend or submit an abstract! Abstracts are due by May 10, 2023: CERF 2023 Call for Abstracts

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