Kodiak Tanner crabs are bigger cousins of snow crab (opilio Tanners)

They are still crunching the numbers from the summer survey, but Kodiak crab biologists believe there could be a small Tanner fishery in January.

Some of the preliminary info we’re getting suggests that we’re going to be potentially above threshold in the east side, Southeast and southwest sections in Kodiak.”

Nat Nichols is area shellfish manager at the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game in Kodiak.

 Each section must have a minimum of 100,000 pounds of harvestable crab and total 400,000 pounds island wide before a fishery can open.  There are other thresholds to meet before a call is made, but Nichols admits to being pleasantly surprised.

“We expected that this year would sort of be the slump between the 2013 group and the 2018 group. So I’m actually sort of surprised that we’ve met threshold in three sections. I wouldn’t have predicted that last year. So that’s promising. And it means that a fishery is at least a possibility. Whereas I would not have guessed that it was likely if you’d asked me a year ago.”

Crabbers will know in early November if a Tanner fishery will open in mid-January of 2021.

Looking ahead, the survey also showed that the biggest Tanner crab cohort ever seen that was spotted two years ago is still coming on strong. It’s estimated at 200 million crabs, and while many won’t survive to adulthood, it could still leave a big bulk for many years of harvest. 

“At least from a back deck perspective, this year we’re seeing lots of crab that are getting big, they’re sexually mature, but they’re not legal yet. So it’s looking positive looking forward. And they’re still out there. So next year will really be an interesting survey because that’s when, based on growth that we’ve seen in the past, we would expect that 2018 group to start to have a real significant portion of them get to a legal size. So next year’s survey will really be interesting for that.”