Quotas rise on snow crab fishery opening Oct. 15

Karen Swartzbart, right, of Alaska Department of Fish & Game, counts Tanner crab as Trident Seafoods employees and F/V Ace deckhand Robert Bernard, center, guide them to a tote in Cordova. (March 6, 2018) Photo by Emily Mesner/The Cordova Times

Bering Sea snow crab stocks are continuing to bounce back, as evidenced by an Alaska Department of Fish and Game decision to set the quota for the fishery opening on Oct. 15 at 34,019,000 pounds.

That includes 30.6 million pounds for those with individual fishing quota and 3.4 million pounds for community development quota holders.

The season will open in Bering Sea District waters west of 165 degrees West longitude at noon on Oct. 15 and remain open until May 15 in the Eastern Subdistrict and through May 31 in the Western Subdistrict.

Last year’s allowable catch of 27.6 million pounds included 24.8 million pounds in individual fishing quota and 2.7 million pounds for community development quota harvesters.

ADF&G fisheries biologists also announced on Oct. 6 a reduced quota for the Bristol Bay red king crab season, which will open Oct. 15 with a total allowable catch of 3.8 million pounds, including 3.4 million pounds of individual fishing quota and 379,700 pounds for holders of community development quota. 

Last year Bering Sea harvesters of the red king crab had a quota of 4.3 million pounds of crab, including 3.9 million pounds for holders individual fishing quota and 379,000 pounds for those with community development quota.

The red king crab quota was 6.6 million pounds in 2017 and 8.4 million pounds in 2016.

The Bering Sea Tanner crab season is closed for 2019-2020. State fisheries biologists said that based on the 2019 National Marine Fisheries Service trawl survey, estimated mature male biomass in the eastern and western Bering Sea areas fell below the thresholds required for the fishery to open. Due to the closure of the Tanner crab fishery retention of Tanner crab during the Bering Sea snow crab fishery is prohibited.

Last year the western district for Tanner crab opened with an allowable catch of 2.4 million pounds, down from 2.5 million pounds a year earlier, but the eastern district was closed as it was in 2017.

Also based on analysis of the NMFS trawl survey, state biologists opted to continue closure of the Pribilof District red and blue king crab fishery.

State biologists based their decision on estimates that red king crab abundance that regain below the federal minimum stock size threshold and that the stock has been declared overfishing.