ILWACO, Wash. - The recreational Dungeness crab fishery off the Washington coast will not be affected by a delay in the commercial fishery announced by fishery managers in Washington, Oregon and California.

All three Pacific states have announced that the commercial fishery will be delayed until at least Dec. 15 from Point Arena, Calif., to the Canadian border to give the crabs' shells more time to harden and fill with meat.

But the recreational pot fishery in Washington state and will get under way Dec. 1 as previously scheduled, said Phil Anderson, a special assistant to the director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

"Recreational fisheries typically take place near shore and in coastal estuaries, where the crab are already in harvestable condition," Anderson said. "On the commercial side, all three states wanted to make sure that consumers get a high-quality product."

Dungeness crab support the highest-value commercial fishery in Washington state, generating dockside sales ranging from $29 million to $56 million during the past five years.