Tanners delivered at Cordova for the first time since 1988.                                     Credit: Cordova Times


Crabbers at Prince William Sound could get to drop pots for Tanners again in March.

Biologists are computing the results of the yearly trawl survey that wrapped up in late August and will also do a week long pot survey in the western district starting November 1.

 “We’re getting all our information together so we can get our estimates and see where we’re at.”

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

A month long fishery in March of 2018 was the first Tanner opener in the Sound since 1988. It was allowed under a Commissioner’s Permit for eastern and western regions.

Rumble says it was a sort of fact finding mission, prompted by increasing numbers of Tanners coming up in subsistence pots and a lack of survey data.

 “There were concerns raised by industry that the department’s inclusive trawl survey does not reflect what’s happening with Tanner crab abundance outside of those survey grounds.”

Fifteen permit holders participated on 14 vessels for the 30 day fishery.

“The total harvest was 82,000 pounds with an overall catch per pot of 12.5 crabs per pot and an average weight derived from our port sampling of 1.87 pounds.”

In anticipation of a trial opener, the state Board of Fisheries in 2017 adopted a harvest strategy for Tanners that is linked to legal male crab abundance estimates in the trawl survey.

The Board also approved a reduced legal size limit due to the crab reaching a certain size and staying there, a condition called terminal molt.

Based on the harvest from last season, and pending survey results, Rumble says managers are pretty confident there will be another Commissioner’s Permit fishery in Prince William Sound next March.

“March is a good time for us because it’s before other fisheries boot up and hopefully the processors will commit to do what they did last year which was to come into Cordova and set up for that fishery. And we also had some buyers in the western part of PWS in Whittier and Seward. I’m thinking they will appreciate the opportunity to buy Tanner crab again.”

                       Nov. 18-20, Seattle