The Fourth of July holiday was a busy day for wildlife police patrolling Puget Sound for illegal crabbing.
Crabbing on the Sound has been closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for a couple years, but this year, one of the most popular fishing holidays happened to fall on a Tuesday.
Within in a few hours, officers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife made contact with seven boats breaking the rules, many of them with multiple violations. The majority were caught with Dungeness crabs.
One boat had eight crab traps out, but all the men aboard said they had no idea the fishery was closed.
"There are many reasons for those rules put in place by state biologists to ensure the sustainability of the fishery throughout the season. If the rules are followed, we can continue puts our resources at risk," Officer Jacob Greshock said. "One of those vessels had crab hidden in the front of the boat that were under the legal size limit. It's troubling to see that out on the water today."
Most people received a $150 citation. The illegally harvested crabs were thrown back into the water.
"Some folks think that since it's the Fourth of July it's automatically open," Officer Hwa Kim said. "If we continue to fish seven days a week, we'll catch too much and we're going to have a real short season."