Prince William Sound’s Tanner crab fishery has been underway since March 2 For the third year running. Sixteen boats have pulled up more than 54,000 pounds so far fetching $3.50 a pound. Last year’s catch reached 124,000 pounds of Tanners.
“Things are going well for the season and we’ll just let it click along and we’ll be monitoring it every day.”
Jan Rumble is Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet area manager for shellfish and groundfish for the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game in Homer. A test fishery also is underway in unfished areas in hopes of eventually expanding the fishery in the region.
Tanner crabbers also are recording the numbers and where they pull up golden king crab to provide more data for a potential fishery. Goldens appear to be on an upswing in some areas, but no stock assessments have been done since 2006. There’s no money for surveys but Rumble says a test fishery, hopefully this year, might help get the data they need.
“People bid on the test fishery, and that could provide us with revenue where we could send observers aboard to collect biological and abundance information. So that’s kind of the route we’re pursuing right now.”
Another potential fishery for the Sound is sea cucumbers. Rumble, a former diver for the state in Southeast, is working with local fishermen on a pilot survey for cukes this summer.
“With dive fisheries, you’re allowed to tax the product, it’s in state statutes. And so that creates a situation where you are providing funds for stock assessment through the taxation of the fishery. So we’re hoping, if this does go well with the survey, to try to expand it throughout the Sound and then using proceeds from anything that’s sold to continue that development and to continue stock assessment.”
Up next in Prince William Sound is the popular shrimp pot season starting in mid-April with a harvest topping 68,100 pounds.
Registration is open through April 1 and shrimpers must first get a CFEC card before they sign on with Fish and Game. The big spot shrimp can pay fishermen $10 to $16 per pound in what Rumble says is a very local fishery.
“We provide shrimp to people on the street and people sell it through Facebook, they sell it to local restaurants. It’s really local sales that drive this fishery and I think that we would all say that we’re pretty proud of it, collectively.”