Westward region crabbers at Kodiak, Chignik and the Alaska Peninsula got a 1.8 million pound boost for bairdi Tanner crab, snow crab’s larger cousin, in a fishery that kicks off in mid-January.
Just over a million pounds goes to Kodiak crabbers who sat out an opener last year. It will be the first fishery at Chignik (200,000 pounds) since 2012 and since 2013 for the South Peninsula (500,000 pounds).
“This group of crab we’ve been talking about for a couple of years now, the front edge of them has just turned legal and it’s really developing into some really good looking fisheries across the board here.”
Nat Nichols is regional shellfish manager at Fish and Game at Kodiak. He says fishing is likely to go fast and advises all crabbers to be prepared for lots of measuring.
“Make sure you’ve got your legal sticks all set up and your crew knows how to use them because there’s going to be a lot of measuring. We’ve got a lot of crab behind these legal crab that are just shy of being legal and that will be next year’s crab and the year coming. We want to take care of them and make sure we reduce any kind of handling mortality that we can. So make sure you’re paying attention to what goes into the tank because there’s going to be a lot of crab that’s just short of the stick.”
Gulf Tanners now top the Bering Sea bairdi Tanner fishery which has a catch limit of 1.1 million pounds for this season.
Likewise, Dungeness fisheries that just wrapped up at the westward region and Southeast now produce Alaska’s biggest crab haul.
Early numbers show a combined catch of more than 8.7 million pounds with preliminary values to Southeast fishermen at over $14 million and more than $23 million for the westward region.
And unlike the Bering Sea crab revenues, the Gulf Dungeness and Tanner crab dollars will remain in Alaska where nearly all of those crabbers call home.
For example, documents from NOAA Fisheries for 2019/2020 show that 52 Alaska residents own 31% of the Bering Sea snow crab quota share pool while 200 non-residents own 66%.
Snow crab gross revenues to fishermen totaled $108.38 million based on an average price of $3.98 per pound. Fifteen Alaska vessels took 24% of the dockside dollars while 36 Washington-based boats took 64%.
Similar proportions apply for Bering Sea Tanner crab.
For Bristol Bay red king crab, closed this season for the first time in 25 years, 49 Alaskans own 28% of the quota share pool; 181 Outsiders own 70% of the crab shares.
Red king crab gross earnings were $44.8 million, based on an average price of $11.87 per pound. Eighteen of the permit holders were Alaskans and pocketed 28% of the revenues, while 41 non-residents pocketed 72% of the landed crab values.