Crab fishermen in the Kodiak, Chignik and South Alaska Peninsula districts harvested 3.2 million pounds of Tanner crab by Tuesday, with 1.8 million pounds delivered and the rest still onboard vessels, most of them in line at processing facilities in Kodiak.
“Kodiak doesn’t have capacity to process the 5.8 million pounds this year without weeks of waiting in line,” wrote Kodiak harvester Shawn Dochtermann in a text message, as his vessel headed for King Cove to unload his catch. “So besides the low price we are receiving, we have to pay for fuel and back to King Cove just to get our crab delivered in a reasonable amount of time.”
Calls to processors regarding the delivery delays were not returned by press time.
Fishing for Tanner crab continued in the Southwest sector of the Kodiak district, which had 23% — or 195,000 pounds — of its guideline harvest level yet to catch, plus the Chignik district, with 82,000 pounds — or 20% — of its quota still not harvested.
The overall allowable harvest for the Kodiak district alone was 5.8 million pounds. The last time the Kodiak district quota was over 5 million pounds was 1989, said Cassandra Whiteside, assistant manager for shellfish and groundfish with the Kodiak office of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG). The weather for the most part has been calm and clear, with the temperature around 30 degrees above zero, Whiteside said.
Preliminary ADF&G harvest reports for the Kodiak district showed that the Eastside, with a 4 million-pound total allowable catch closed at 2 p.m. on Sunday — the 99 participating vessels having delivered 1.6 million pounds of Tanners with an average catch per unit effort (CPUE) of 85 crab per pot. The Southeast section, with 22 participating vessels, closed on Monday after deliveries of 182,242 pounds, with an average of 66 crab per CPUE.
The Southwest sector, with 12 participating vessels, remained open — as 195,000 pounds, or 23% of the sector’s 850,000-pound total allowable catch remained to be harvested. The average CPUE for the Southwest sector was 84 crab per pot.
The Chignik sector also remained open, with 82,000 pounds — or 20% — of its 400,000 total allowable catch still to be caught. The 13 vessels harvesting in the Chignik sector had a harvest of 318,251 pounds through Tuesday, including 218,527 pounds delivered and 99,724 pounds on board. The CPUE in the Chignik sector was averaging 23 crab per pot.
The western and eastern sectors of the South Peninsula Tanner crab fishery were closed on Jan. 24 and Jan. 27 respectively. Catch totals were 580,762 pounds and an average CPUE of 58 crab per pot for the western sector and 570,313 pounds, and an average CPUE of 55 crab per pot in the eastern sector.