NSEDC declines to purchase winter red king crab

Norton Sound Economic Development Corp. (NSEDC), citing conservation concerns, is opting to not purchase crab from the 2023 winter commercial fishery at Nome.

NSEDC officials said that the current mature crab stock is vital for reproduction, so that a conservative harvest approach over the next few years is warranted to balance needs of commercial fishermen with those of the long-term health of the crab population. This harvest strategy may allow for the commercial fishery to benefit from a harvestable surplus for a onger period of time, corporation officials said in a statement issued recently.

In conjunction with that decision NSEDC and Norton Sound Seafood Products will refrain from selling commercial crabbing gear or commercial quantities of bait.

NSEDC, one of six community development quota entities in Alaska, represents 15 member communities in the Bering Strait region of Northwest Alaska.

A decision on how to approach the 2023 summer commercial fishery is expected to be made by NSEDC in the coming weeks.  The corporation said in its statement that they are cautiously optimistic that some level of commercial harvest can again be met while preserving crab stock for the coming years for reproduction and future harvests.  Still any commercial harvest of this current cohort should be conservatively managed and spread out to assure longer term benefits for the crab stock and subsistence and commercial harvesters, they said.