Dungeness Crab by Trap

North & Central Coast — CRAB AREA B


Dungeness Crab


Jan 01 - Dec 31

Crab Trap

Fish harvesters use wire traps submerged on the seafloor to catch Dungeness crab. Traps are attached to lines and marked by floats on the surface. Each vessel uses a unique colour pattern on their buoys in order to identify their traps. The traps attract crab with bait and capture them live. Fish harvesters regularly haul their traps to check their catch. 

Harvesting Method

Crab Trap

Crab traps consist of a round steel frame covered with nylon or wire netting. The traps capture crab live by attracting them through an entrance to the centre of the trap where the bait is located. Once inside the trap, the larger crabs are unable to escape. All commercial traps have an escape hatch to allow small crabs and fish to get out.

Crab Trap

Fish harvesters attach one or more traps on a line and set them on the ocean floor. Each fishing vessel has a limit of 400 traps. There are 13 licensed vessels in this crab fishing area. 

Conservation Measures

The crab fishery is managed by effort control, which involves limits to the number of boats, traps and fishing days. A number of measures address conservation in the fishery. These include:

  • minimum Dungeness crab size of 165 mm measured as the maximum distance across the greatest breadth of the shell.  
  • a limit on the number of licensed fishing vessels in the crab fishing area
  • a limit on the number of traps.
  • seasonal and area closures to protect molts with soft shells
  • a rule requiring the release of female and soft-shelled crab
  • escape holes 105 mm wide that enable undersized crab to exit traps
  • rules governing the size, design and type of trap
  • biodegradable components that will dismantle traps if lost at sea and therefore prevent “ghost” fishing
  • a rule requiring all traps to be check at least once every 18 days
  • full fishery monitoring, either through an at-sea observer or electronic monitoring
  • a rule requiring captains to maintain daily catch logs submitted each month

In this lobster fishing area, fish harvesters actively participate in scientific data collection and research such as:

  • a comprehensive data collection system on catches
  • scientific sampling of lobsters at sea
  • maintaining catch logbooks and scientific field notebooks

North & Central Coast


Jan 01 - Dec 31


The Department of Fisheries and Oceans manages this fishery under an integrated fishery management plan for all crab in British Columbia. Click the following link to visit the government's fishery management page.


For the most recent crab stock status, check the Department of Fisheries and Ocean’s science advisory reports at this link

Quality and Handling

Local fish harvesters pride themselves on catching crab with a hard shell. Proper handling is paramount for crab quality and health. Once landed aboard, crabs are graded, and undersized, soft-shelled and female crab are returned to the ocean. The live crab are then placed in chilled, circulating water in the vessel’s hold. At the dock, the crab are sold and shipped live to market. Some crab are also canned, cooked or frozen.

In some cases, fish harvesters hold their live crab in storage facilities at the dock. These floating cages are moored off the docks. Tides and currents flush the crab with seawater. Fish harvesters typically hold crabs in hopes that the market prices will improve later or to sell crabs directly to local customers.


Food Info Dungeness Crab


  • Colour: opaque white crabmeat and bright red shell when cooked
  • Texture: tender and delicately textured with the leg meat slightly firmer.
  • Flavour: The meat of the Dungeness crab is sweet, mild and might even present a slightly nutty taste.
  • Perfect serve: The simplest serve—boiled in salted water and served straight from the shell with melted butter and bread warm from the oven—cannot be beaten. You can also switch the salted water with a flavourful, but not too heavy, microbrewery beer, for a fragrant twist. Crab cakes, seasoned simply with onions, garlic, paprika, parsley, salt and pepper, are also a treat.