WSR 16-13-149
[Filed June 22, 2016, 11:04 a.m.]
Subject of Possible Rule Making: Adding three species of king crab to the current shellfish classification in the Washington Administrative Code.
Statutes Authorizing the Agency to Adopt Rules on this Subject: RCW 77.04.012, 77.04.013, 77.04.055, and 77.15.005.
Reasons Why Rules on this Subject may be Needed and What They Might Accomplish: The Washington department of fish and wildlife (WDFW) regulatory authority is closely aligned with classification of species in the Washington Administrative Code. The current list of classified shellfish species by rule does not include three species of king crab that make up a significant proportion of the Alaskan crab harvest, and are known to be involved in the illicit seafood trade. One of these species, red king crab, is designated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as a "species at risk," and anecdotal information from Washington crab fishermen suggests it also exists in Washington offshore waters.
Currently, illegal, unreported, or unregulated fisheries (IUU) are a global concern and negatively impact conservation and the legitimate market. The Russian king crab fishery is considered one of the most unsustainable fisheries on the globe, and directly competes with the Alaska fishery with respect to three king crab species shared by fleets in both countries.
To remain viable, Washington commercial fishing vessels, fish processing operations, and seafood trade interests rely on a number of west coast and Alaska fisheries, including the Alaska king crab fishery. Failing to control the importation of illegally harvested crab from Russia directly and negatively affects conservation, the seafood market place, and the interests of the Washington commercial fishing industry. According to members of the Bering Sea Crab Association (BSCA), the IUU issue has resulted in an estimated $600 million loss in crab related revenue and tax since 2000.
Investigation and past case work indicate that Washington state ports are receiving IUU Russian king crab. Of the $255 million of the United States' frozen crab imports from Russia in 2015, seventy-nine percent are estimated to be imported through Washington state ports (Blaine, Seattle, Tacoma, and, to a lesser extent, Bellingham). Over the last five years, as much as eighty-eight percent (2014) of all frozen (king and snow) crab from Russia entered through either the ports of Blaine, Seattle, or Tacoma.
By adding three species of king crab to the current shellfish classification, brokers who currently conduct business in Washington state will be required to obtain a wholesale fish dealers license and maintain and produce records for inspection by fish and wildlife police. Shippers and storage facilities will not be required to be licensed, but will be required to produce records associated with the origin of crab. These records are already maintained, however access to that information cannot be compelled for inspection purposes unless a classified species is identified. A number of the seafood brokers, shippers and cold storage facilities dealing in king crab are already licensed due to their involvement in trading or storing classified species.
Other Federal and State Agencies that Regulate this Subject and the Process Coordinating the Rule with These Agencies: NOAA. WDFW and NOAA coordinate on a variety of issues on the Pacific and North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, where WDFW participates as a policy member.
Process for Developing New Rule: Agency study.
Interested parties can participate in the decision to adopt the new rule and formulation of the proposed rule before publication. Enforcement Contact: Mike Cenci, WDFW Deputy Chief of Enforcement Program, 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091, phone (360) 902-2938.
Fisheries Contact: Rich Childers, WDFW Fish Division, 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091, phone (360) 302-3030 [902-3030].
Regulatory Contact: Scott Bird, WDFW Rules Coordinator, 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091, phone (360) 902-2403.
June 22, 2016
Scott Bird
Rules Coordinator