MaST Center promotes education, installs signs for local crab fishermen

Highline College’s Marine Science and Technology Center, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the City of Des Moines Marina recently created multi-lingual signs to help reduce illegal harvesting of crab on the Marina’s public fishing piers.

The project was funded by a $1,000 grant from the Barbara Schwantes Memorial Fund.

The Marine Science and Technology (MaST) Center partnered with the Des Moines Marina and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to apply for and receive a grant from the Barbara Schwantes Memorial Fund that financed the design and purchase of the signs. The fund was created by the Pacific Coast Congress of Harbormaster and Port Managers (PCC) in honor of one of the organizations founding members. The PCC is an organization that promotes the continuing education of harbormasters and port managers and includes members from the San Francisco Bay area to Dutch Harbor, Alaska. The Fund is available for projects and scholarships and helps support a wide variety of marine related programs.

Specifically targeting the recreational crab fishery, the signs will be installed at three of the most popular fishing locations in the Des Moines area.

“The signs highlight the two legal species of crab with information about how to recognize legal males from illegal females,” said MaST Center’s Education Coordinator, Eugene Disney. “The signs also display pictures of the species of crab which are not legal to harvest and most likely to be taken illegally. Crab fishermen can use the signs to properly identify their catch so they can make informed decisions about keeping or releasing their catch.”

One frequent cause for citations is the taking of undersized crab so the signs also include a “crab gauge” cut into the sign.


Project Leader Eugene Disney and sign at the Des Moines Marina.

Besides English, the information on the signs is also presented in Vietnamese and Spanish. Given that South King County, where Des Moines is located, is one of the most ethnically diverse regions in the country, the multi-lingual signs will help educate fishermen who may have weak or non-existent English skills.

The MaST Center, WDFW and the City of Des Moines Marina hope the installation of these signs will help decrease the number of citations and result in a greater sense of stewardship for the marine environment.

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