Winter commercial crab fishery for Norton Sound on hold

Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials are waiting to open the winter commercial red king crab fishery for Norton Sound pending buyer interest or interest from harvesters planning to be catcher-sellers.

As of Feb. 7 no buyers for the commercial catch had been identified.

ADF&G has set a preliminary harvest rate of 7 percent of the legal male biomass of 2.43 million-pound fishery, yielding a total commercial guideline harvest level of 170,100 pounds. At this level the commercial harvest allows a buffer of some 31,000 pounds, from the allowable biological catch of 201,000 pounds, to account for subsistence harvests and incidental mortality of non-targeted carb discards.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council recently set the 2020 Norton Sound red king crab legal male biomass estimate, allowable biological catch and overfishing limit level. The GHL is set based on the legal male biomass and must be kept below the ABC to accommodate other sources of fishery-related mortality.

The GHL for the winter commercial fishery is 8 percent of the total commercial GHL, a total of 13,608 pounds. Crab pots for the winter commercial fishery must be set through the ice.

Crab permit holders may contact ADF&G in Nome at 907-443-5167 or at 800-560-2271 for information on becoming a catcher-seller and to express interest in the commercial fishery.

Commercial permit holders must have a catcher-seller permit and be registered as a catcher-seller with ADF&G in Nome before they can sell crab to the public.