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The highly popular spot shrimp season opens May 3 in many marine areas, and populations of the tasty prawn-sized shrimp remain stable.

“The test fishing has been good again in the areas surveyed, and overall we’re in a period of high abundance,” said Mark O’Toole, a state Fish and Wildlife shellfish biologist.

The Hood Canal (Marine Catch Area 12) sport season will be open May 3, 7, 10 and 21 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day. The Discovery Bay Shrimp District (Sub-Area 6) will be open May 3, 7, 10 and 21 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day

Fisheries managers are skipping an opening on May 14 in Hood Canal and Discovery Bay due to an extreme minus-low tide. The catch quota is slightly smaller than last year in these areas, but could reopen if enough remains after initial fisheries are completed.

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In the San Juan Islands (Area 7 East, South and West) will be open May 3 for a one-day fishery, and will then reopen May 7-10, May 21-24 and May 28-31.

In Area 7 West only, the season will be open daily starting June 1 through Sept. 15 or until the catch quota is attained, which is a change from the past when it was open Thursday to Saturday only.

“Theoretically, the season in 7 West could run all summer and that is a big change from a few years ago, adding quite a few more days to go fishing,” O’Toole said. “The increase is due in part to a shift in allocation from (non-tribal) commercial to sport that was implemented last year.”

In the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Neah Bay to Port Angeles (Areas 4, 5 and 6) — excluding Discovery Bay — will be open daily starting May 3, and closes Sept. 15 or when the quota is achieved. The start time in these areas will be one hour before sunrise.

Locally, the eastern side of Whidbey Island, and northern and central Puget Sound (Areas 8-1, 8-2, 9 and 10) will be open May 3 and May 7 only from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. South-central Puget Sound (Area 11) will be open May 3, 7 and 10 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. Southern Puget Sound (Area 13) will be open daily from May 13-31, and the start time each day is one hour before sunrise.

Spot shrimp are the largest-sized shrimp caught along the West Coast, and measure 6 to 9 inches long. They are revered for their lobster-like firm texture and sweet taste.

When in season, they can sell for as much as $15 to $20 per pound (average is 8 to 12 whole shrimp per pound) at local seafood markets.

How shrimpers fared in openers last season

In San Juan Island East and West areas, 183 boats May 4 averaged 10.4 pounds per boat up from 4.4 in 2012. In San Juan Island South area, 98 May 4 averaged 10.8 up from 9.9 in 2012. In Everett/Saratoga Pass, 510 May 4 averaged 18.6, the same as in 2012; and 410 May 5 averaged 18.3.

In northern Puget Sound, 283 May 4 averaged 16.7, down from 19.6 in 2012; and 182 May 8 averaged 16.6. In central Puget Sound, 119 May 4 averaged 17.4, down from 20.9 in 2012; and 67 May 8 averaged 16.8. In Elliott Bay (part of Area 10), 161 May 4 averaged, 18.9 down from 19.3 in 2012; and 101 May 8 averaged 18.3.

In south central Puget Sound, 65 May 4 averaged 10.2, up from 8.1 in 2012; and 60 May 8 averaged 10.8. In Hood Canal, 1,722 May 4 averaged 18.0, up from 17.8 in 2012; and 1,101 May 8 averaged 17.5. In Discovery Bay, 79 May 4 averaged 12.5, up from 10.2 in 2012; and 27 May 8 averaged 9.8.

In all marine areas, the daily limit is 80 spot shrimp per person.

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