This year will be the first opening for Tanner crab the Kodiak management area has seen in a few years.
Nat Nichols, Alaska Department of Fish and Game area management biologist for the Groundfish, Shellfish & Dive Fisheries, says the last opening was in 2013.
He says ADF & G conducts an extensive trawl survey program between Dutch Harbor and Kodiak focused on tanner crab in the Gulf of Alaska.
“This year we did 363 stations. About 200 of those are in Kodiak, so quite a few stations around Kodiak to assess tanner crab abundance. Once we work up those survey results, we compare them to abundance thresholds that are set out in the harbor strategy and regulation and that gives us guidance as to whether we can proceed with the fishery.”
He says abundance levels have now reached the point that the Tanner crab fishery can open again, and ADF & G recently set the guideline harvest levels.
“We’re looking to target 260,000 pounds from the east side section and 140,000 pounds from the southwest section, and those’ll be the only two sections that are open this year.”
He says the fishery opens January 15.
Meanwhile, the Dungeness crab season, which opened in May and June, closed last week.
“We had five vessels participating and looks like we’ve wrapped up with about 180,000 pounds of Dungeness across the dock. Harvest in Kodiak is pretty variable over the last ten years. We’ve had season less than 100,000 pounds and we’ve had seasons over a million, so this year’s kind of right in there but sort of in the lower portion of what we’ve seen over the last decade.”
Nichols says some of the decrease in participation could be due to this year’s good salmon season. He says fishermen may have not felt such a need to turn to Dungeness to supplement their incomes.
Edit 11/07: We mistakenly posted a Dungeness crab as the leading photo to this article, which focuses mainly on Tanner crab. The editor has since changed the web version and would like to apologize for the error.