Fish and Game cuts Bering Sea crab quota

The day before the North Pacific Fishery Management Council will review drastically declining snow and tanner crab stocks, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game cut Bering Sea red king crab stocks by 15 percent.

The 2016-17 crab season, which runs from Oct. 15 through Jan. 15, will allow a total allowable catch of 8.5 million pounds, which matches the quota from 2014.

The downturn in quota ends a two-year streak of nearly 10 million pound catches. Last year, crabbers were allowed to take 9.97 million pounds of Bristol Bay red king crab. In 2014, the Bristol Bay red king crab total allowable catch, or TAC, is 9.98 million pounds. That’s up from the 2013 limit of 8.6 million pounds.

Biomass for Bristol Bay red king crab has declined. Legal size males dropped from 61 million pounds in 2015 to 53 million pounds for the 2016 season.

While king crab remains on the long-term level, the other two main crab fisheries are on a downswing.

Stocks for both snow crab and Bairdi Tanner crab were down according to surveys in 2016, and stakeholders are holding their breath to see if the Alaska Department of Fish and Game will need to close fisheries if abundance doesn’t meet the department thresholds.

DJ Summers can be reached at [email protected]

10/11/2016 - 7:30am