Fish Radio
Tanner crab called off again at Kodiak
December 5, 2014

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch … It’s still a time out for Kodiak and Westward Tanner crab – More after this —

Tanner crab map

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The popular Tanner crab fishery at Kodiak is on hold again for a second year. Likewise, at Chignik and the Alaska Peninsula.

Based on the results of our 2014 crab survey the abundance of legal sized male Tanner crab at Kodiak, Chignik and along the Alaska Peninsula were all below the minimum threshold for us to have a commercial fishery.

Mark Stichert is area manager at Fish and Game in Kodiak. There is a bright side – the annual surveys show one of the largest waves ever poised to enter the Tanner fishery since the late 1980s.

In fact the total abundance of crab specifically in Kodiak was the third or fourth highest in the time series of our survey so there is still a lot of Tanner crab in the water but they are fairly small size. 

The recruit crab measure between 2.5-3.5 inches, Stichert says, still shy of legal size.

Tanner crab Credit: noaa.gov

Tanner crab
Credit: noaa.gov

The legal size for the commercial fishery is 5.5 inches so we are cautiously optimistic that those crab will continue to persist and translate into a fishery down the road. Whether that’s next year we don’t know yet but we are looking forward to potentially having stronger seasons again, or reopening again potentially next year and more likely 2017. 

It takes about six years for the local Tanner crab to grow to their full, two pound size. That’s an educated guess, Stichert says, because they can’t be aged by scales or ear bones, like other species.

 We think a male Tanner crab will molt up to 15-16 times throughout their life history but we don’t really have a method of aging crab and getting a good idea of how much they grow year to year or how old they really are when they hit the fishery. 

The mid-January Tanner season provides a nice mid-winter boost to 50 or more Kodiak boats and about 30 at the Peninsula. The 2013 total catch was less than one million pounds but it still brought in several million dollars to local communities.

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