Conservation decision: Norton Sound will not purchase winter red king crab

Officials with the Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation have opted to forego purchase of any 2023 winter king crab commercial harvest, in hope that their decision will benefit the long-term health of the fishery.

While these red king crab stocks appear to be rebounding, the nonprofit economic development entity representing 15 communities in the Bering Straits region of Northwest Alaska said the current mature crab stock is vital for future reproduction.

A conservative harvest approach over the next few years is warranted to balance the needs of the commercial fishery with those of the crab population’s long-term health, they said. The winter fishery has the potentially to produce additional negative impacts to the stock in the form of increased handling mortality and pot loss, they said.

Given that decision not to purchase any of the winter crab harvest, the Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation and North Sound Seafood Products will not be selling commercial crabbing gear or commercial quantities of bait.

A determination on how to approach the 2023 summer commercial fishery is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Officials from the development corporation said they are cautiously optimistic that a level of commercial harvest could again be achieved while preserving crab for the coming years, for reproduction and future harvest.


Any commercial harvest of the current cohort should be conservatively managed for the long-term benefit of the crab stock, they said.