PWS shrimp pot fishery opens April 15

Deadline to register for the fishery, in Area 2, is April 3

The Prince William Sound commercial shrimp pot fishing season opens April 15, with an allocation of 67,000 pounds, up from 47,000 pounds last year.

Another 100,000 pounds will go to non-commercial harvests, which also open on April 15.

This year’s fishery will be in Area 2.

All participants must possess a 2017 P09E or P91E interim use permit available from the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission and a PWS area vessel registration. CREC permits are available at http://www.cfec.state.ak.us/forms/Commercial_Fisheris_Permit_Application.pdf

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or paper forms at Alaska Department of Fish and Game offices.

Registrations and required logbook pages are available at ADF&G offices in Anchorage, Cordova, Soldotna and Homer, and by appointment with Alaska Wildlife Troopers in Seward and Valdez.

The deadline to register for the PWS shrimp pot fishery is 5 p.m. on April 3.  The number of shrimp pots that may be operated from a vessel registered for the fishery will be announced in early April.

ADF&G moves the fishery each year between areas 1, 2 and 3 to rotate the pressure on shrimp stocks and allow for recruitment.

Commercial shrimp landings here were first documents in 1960 when some 5,000 pounds were harvested, ADF&G officials said. The historical fishery occurred within the Inside District of Prince William Sound, primarily in the traditional harvest area, which encompassed the northern and western shores of Prince William Sound from Port Valdez to Whittier and the entire southwest portion of the sound

From 1960 to 1977 harvest ranged from 1 in 1961 and 1966 to about 25,000 pounds in 1974. The shrimp pot fishery expanded rapidly from 1978 to 1982 as local markets were established and the major harvest areas located. Early seasons were open year-round with no harvest restrictions.

From 1982 to 1984 seasons were shortened to April 1 through Nov. 30, and a guideline harvest rate of 75,000 to 145,000 pounds was adopted. Despite the shortened season, catch increased to about 214,000 pounds in 1982 and effort increased to 79 vessels in 1984.

Harvest declines began in 1988, indicating potential stock conservation problems. The Exxon Valdez oil spill of March 24, 1989 complicated prosecution of the `989 fishery in which 33 vessels harvested 29,315 pounds.  The commercial fishery was closed by emergency order from 1992 through 1999, and in 2000 the Board of Fisheries closed the fishery until the population rebuilt and a new management plan was adopted.  The fishery remained closed for a total of 18 years.

A new management plan for the Prince William Sound commercial shrimp po fishery was adopted by the Board of Fisheries in March 2009 with small revisions to it in 2012, ADF&G officials said.