Tanner Crab Photos Elicit Strong Reactions



This photo, with what is reported to be Tanner crab bycatch in a bottomfish trawl, was released by the Alaska Marine Conservation Council.

Jay Barrett/KMXT

A Kodiak fisherman presented some dramatic photographs Thursday at the federal fisheries meeting in Anchorage of what was described as an extreme bycatch of Tanner crab made by a trawler in Kodiak Island waters this summer.

The photographs, presented during the testimony of Alexus Kwachka before the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, show a trawl net overflowing with Tanner crab. They were also e-mailed around the state by the Alaska Marine Conservation Council. AMCC is not revealing who took the pictures, or what boat he was a crewman on, but what is clear, is that many Tanners should not have been in the net.

(tanner prohibited 7 sec "Tanner Crab are a prohibited … thrown overboard.")

That’s Theresa Peterson, a Kodiak fisherman and AMCC coordinator. She said the mortality rate for Tanners caught in trawl nets is very high:

(how many live 21 sec "The question then is … years in different studies.")

Bob Krueger is president of the Alaska Whitefish Trawlers Association, and skipper of the Kodiak fishing boat the Mar del Norte. He disputes the authenticity of the AMCC photographs:

(survey vessel 14 sec "We believe there is … and where that happened.")

He said the Tanner stocks are increasing in the Gulf of Alaska, which couldn’t be happening if trawlers were dragging up that many of them on a regular basis.

(no commercial 31 sec "If in fact it was … those kind of tows.")

Peterson says AMCC is trying to shine the light on the need for greater observer coverage on fishing vessels. Currently, boats under a certain size are only required to have observers one-third of their trips, and only when they’re participating in federal water fisheries. She said there were several proposals before the Council:

(alternatives 23 sec "The first alternative is … the pot and the long-line.")

Krueger said he’d like to see observers on even more boats than just the groundfish vessels:

(increased observers 23 sec "We would like to see … sizes, all fisheries.")

Peterson says that beyond increased observer coverage, she would like to see the federal fisheries managers implement some stricter conservation measures for Tanner crab, such as what the state did in prohibiting directed pot fishing in inner bays. While both Peterson and Krueger agree Tanner stocks are rebuilding, Peterson notes that the directed Tanner fishery total allowable catch for 2009 is down 100,000 pounds from 2008.

I’m Jay Barrett.


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