Observer plans modified for commercial crab season

Observer deployment plans for the upcoming commercial crab season have been modified by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in order to reduce risks of exposure to the COVID-19 virus, while still meeting minimum stock assessment data needs.

ADF&G officials said that to accommodate revised deployment strategies, all vessels initially placed on the alternate selection list should be advised that they have a higher likelihood of being selected to carry an observer. Additional details on final observer deployment plans are to be provided by ADF&G when vessel selection lists are published.

Selected catcher vessels will be required to carry an observer for 100 percent of their fishing time. ADF&G also plans to generate a list of alternative catcher vessels for observer coverage in each fishery, and if that alternate list is exhausted during the fishery, all vessels that are fishing may be considered.

Crab processing vessels are required to carry an observer 100 percent of the time and must arrange and pay for their observer coverage. Catcher-processors may receive reimbursement from ADF&G for 20 percent of observer costs for Bristol Bay red king crab and 30 percent of observer costs for Bering Sea snow and Tanner crab fisheries.

Observers for catcher vessels are to be provided by the state-contracted observer firm Saltwater Inc. Vessel captains of the selected catcher vessels will be responsible for contacting Saltwater at 907-539-2548 to provide their vessel fishing plans and coordinate observer coverage.

Failure to provide a minimum of 10 days prior notice may delay fishing operations, ADF&G officials said.

Preseason vessel registration for the 2020-21 Bristol Bay red king crab, Eastern Bering Sea Tanner crab, Wester Bering Sea Tanner crab and Bering Sea snow crab fisheries got under way on Aug. 17. The deadline for filing these forms is Sept. 24. Find the forms and lists of vessels that have preseason registered for each fishery is at adfg.alaska.gov/cfregion4.

Further information on vessel registration is available from ADF&G in Dutch Harbor at 907-581-1239 or Bo Whiteside at 907-486-1854 regarding observer coverage.