Tanner crab delivered at Cordova last year for the first time since 1988.                                                     Credit: Cordova Times

 

 

Crabbers are gearing up for another Prince William Sound Tanner fishery that’s set to open next month. It will be the second go for Tanner crab after last year which was

the first opener since 1988.

“The fishery will open March 1 like last year and it’s in the western and eastern districts of PWS which covers the SW area of the sound and wraps around to the outside of PWS area.”

Jan Rumble is area manager for Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet shellfish and groundfish at Fish and Game in Homer.

 

                     March 28-30 in Kodiak

 

Last March 14 boats dropped pots for Tanners and hauled up 82,000 pounds of crab averaging weights of just under two pounds, or about 44,000 animals.

Rumble says summer trawl surveys and a first ever pot survey last November were pretty scratchy.

 “Our trawl survey did not look good, it was pretty much half of the legal males we saw the previous year so we are not open the Northern and Hinchenbrook part of the Sound based on those results. The pot survey we saw some crab and it was not as good as we hoped so we will be monitoring each different statistical area throughout the fishery to make sure we are comfortable keeping it open.”

Crabbers are required to get a Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission card, a special commissioner’s permit and pot tags. Rumble says the number of pots has been reduced to 25 due to the expected number of participants.

Also mandatory – daily call ins from the fishing grounds.

“There was a mandatory call in last year but the compliance was pretty low so we’re encouraging fishermen to comply because the result of low compliance is being conservative and we want to work with information that’s coming from the grounds and not trying to speculate on what’s going on out there.”

A strong crab market will likely pique interest in the fishery and two processors at the west and east ends of the Sound are set to buy.

“With the variation in salmon harvests and not doing as well in P-cod there is more interest in trying to keep the plants in Cordova open more of the year to provide some money to folks who fish out of Cordova.”

Depending on catch rates, the Tanner fishery could remain open for the month of March.

“We’re optimistic that the fishery will go well and we’re counting on compliance with the call in to be able to monitor the fishery inseason.

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