Kodiak Tanner fishery closed for third year
November 3, 2015
This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – It’s no go again for Kodiak and Westward region Tanner crab. More after this –
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The popular Tanner crab fishery has been called off for the third year running at the Westward Region, meaning Kodiak, Chignik and the South Peninsula districts. State managers for several years have been tracking a huge year class that appeared poised to enter the 2016 Tanner fishery, but based on this summer’s surveys, the crab have failed to materialize. Mark Stichert is area manager at Fish and Game in Kodiak –
In 2013 saw a very large cohort of juvenile crab in the survey – that estimate was over 200 million crab, which was one of the largest estimates we’ve had going back to the early 1980s. We saw those crab again in 2014, they were a year older and a year larger. However, there was a fairly significant decline – in 2014 we saw about 113 million crab, and then in 2015, unfortunately, that number dropped again significantly and we saw just over 40 million total crab in the survey around the Kodiak area. So certainly that is a very large drop.
There is no sure reason why the crab numbers have dropped so drastically. Predation by big increases in Gulf cod, pollock and flatfish is likely, along with other environmental factors.
We’re seeing continued recruitment into the fishery, meaning we are seeing juvenile and small crab in subsequent generations being spun off every year. The bigger issue for us is environmental conditions or factors we don’t completely understand aren’t allowing those crab to mature through the population to get to the legal size.
It takes about six years for the Gulf Tanner crab to grow to their full, two pound size. A fleet of 50 or more boats and about 30 at the Alaska Peninsula target Tanners. The mid-January fishery is usually worth several million dollars to fishermen.
By the way — Tanner crab is spelled with a capitol T because it is named after discoverer and Zera Luther Tanner, commander of the research vessel Albatross which explored Alaska waters in the late 1800s.
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Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. (www.oceanbeauty.com) In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.