August 21, 2013
This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch –Golden king crab kicks off Alaska’s big fall crab fisheries. More after this –
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A small fleet of boats dropped pots last week in Alaska’s most far flung crab fishery: golden king crab along the Aleutian Islands. The boats can remain at sea for a month or more through February. Golden king crab is Alaska’s most stable crab fishery with a conservative harvest each year capped at just over 6 million pounds. The golden kings live at depths of 1,800 feet or more amid underwater mountain ranges.
Unlike other crab fisheries, the golden crab fleet longlines their pots to keep them from getting lost.
Rather than fishing one pot per buoy like other crab fisheries in the Bering Sea, in the Aleutian islands 20-30 pots are attached to a line. And the purpose is because of the uneven bathymetry – individual pots could tumble down an underwater mountain side or submerge their buoy and get lost, but on a longline you can retrieve them.
Denby Lloyd is science advisor for the Aleutian King Crab Science Foundation, a harvester group. Golden crab stocks don’t get surveyed like other stocks, due to their remoteness. Last season, to get better data on the stock’s health abundance, the fleet worked with Fish and Game scientists during the fishery and used 20 specially designed pots to capture small crabs
The results were very clear. Regular pots caught good numbers of legal crab but not many sub legals. But the paired research pots right next to them caught as many or more legal crab and very large numbers of sub legal crab.
Lloyd says s biologists are working on stock assessment models based on the new data. The end result could be lifting the fixed cap for golden crab. A report will likely be presented at the Board of Fisheries meeting in March.
Meanwhile, crabbers will know next month what the catch quotas will be for red king crab at Bristol Bay and Bering Sea snow crab. Both of those big fisheries get underway in mid-October.
Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods. Ocean Beauty has contributed over 10 million meals to the U.S. Food Bank network, and is committed to ending hunger in America. www.oceanbeauty.com In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.