As expected, Bering Sea crabbers will see increased catches for snow crab this season.
Managers announced this week a catch of 27.5 million pounds of snow crab, up 47 percent from last season. That’s due to the annual summer trawl survey that showed a 60 percent boost in market sized males and nearly the same for females.
Even better, biologists documented one of the largest snow crab recruitment events they’ve ever seen.
Also as expected, the news isn’t so good for bairdi Tanners where the catch dropped by two percent. A take of 2.4 million pounds will be allowed from only the western district, with the eastern district closed to fishing.
It’s the number of mature females that dictate the fate of a Tanner fishery and those numbers dropped by 70 percent in the east, continuing a decline over several years.
Crabbers breathed a sigh of relief to learn there will be a red king crab fishery at Bristol Bay with a catch of 4.3 million pounds, a 36 percent drop.
“It helps sustain king crab markets that might be lost if the season were closed,” was the reaction of Jake Jacobsen, director of the Inter-Cooperative Exchange which represents the majority of Bering Sea crabbers.
There will again be no king crab openers at the Pribilofs and St. Matthew Island due to low stock numbers.
The Bering Sea crab fisheries open on October 15.
Similarly, a king crab fishery was canceled for Southeast Alaska. A small, 120,000 pound red king crab fishery occurred last fall for the first time in six years but the numbers didn’t pan out for this fall.
Southeast’s Dungeness crab fishery opened on October 1.