Golden king crab test fishery set for autumn

Winning bidder will be awarded a contract to harvest and purchase 15,000 pounds of crab

More than 30 years after the last commercial harvest of golden king crab in Prince William Sound, Alaska Department of Fish and Game researchers are preparing for a test fishery set for Sept. 1 through Oct. 30, to determine whereabouts and abundance of the species.

The test fishery was designed by ADF&G to determine the abundance and distribution of the golden king crab, so state shellfish researchers can better inform the Alaska Board of Fisheries if another proposal comes before the board to open areas of Prince William Sound for the first commercial fishery for that species since the 1988-89 winter fishery, said Wyatt Rhea-Fournier, regional shellfish research biologist with ADF&G in Homer.

All bids must be received by 1:30 p.m. Aug. 5. Bid documents can be obtained from the state’s online public notice page at http://notice.alaska.gov/198857 or by emailing Dave Mitchell, procurement specialist at dave.mitchell@alaska.gov .

The goal is to collect information on legal male catch rate, male size composition and distribution of golden king crab in the inside waters of Prince William Sound.  It’s a unique fishery, as the golden king crab can be up to 500 fathoms deep, Rhea-Fournier said. Other king crab are higher up in the water table.

ADF&G meanwhile is requesting bids from qualified bidders for harvesting and purchasing the golden king crab from Registration Area E. Bids will be based on a price/pound of golden king crab with a maximum harvest of 15,000 pounds, distributed across three lots with 5,000 pounds allocated to each lot. Within each lot, no more than 2,500 pounds may be harvested from a single statistical area.  Fishing in an individual statistical area will close once 2,500 pounds may be harvested from a single statistical area. A maximum of 25 pots may be soaking (fishing) in a statistical area at one time and a maximum of 50 pots may be soaking in a lot at one time. Vessels may not harvest from more than one lot per delivery.

Back in March, Cordova District Fishermen United urged the Alaska Board of Fisheries during their meeting in Anchorage to develop a harvest strategy to reintroduce a golden king crab fishery in the northern and western districts of Prince William Sound

CDFU told the board that the fishery would provide an increased economic benefit to the community, but both the CDFU proposal and another by harvesters Robert Smith and Warren Chappell failed on 1-6 votes.

At that point, ADF&G decided to hold a test fishery to conduct an analysis, so that in the event another proposal for a Prince William Sound golden king crab fishery coms before the board ADF&G will be able to better inform the board about abundance and distribution of the crab.