A former crab researcher and Kodiak resident just spent the past three-and-a-half years editing a reference book devoted to the biology and fisheries of king crab. Brad Stevens was in Kodiak visiting a few weeks ago and said the book is the first textbook to focus entirely on king crab.
Stevens lived in Kodiak from the 1980s until 2006 when he and his family moved to the east coast. He currently works as a professor of environmental science at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Stevens has been researching crab around the world for more than three decades primarily the reproductive biology and aquaculture potential of the species.
“And I had thought about putting some of this into a book at one point but when I worked for NOAA it would have been difficult for a number of reasons. One is I just really didn’t have time for it and I’m not sure that they would have considered it part of my job. Although we did do some publishing, this was a major undertaking.”
Stevens said it wasn’t until 2009, when he joined the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, that pursuing a reference book seemed feasible.
“So I contacted some of the scientific book publishers, sent them a little proposal, they had it reviewed, and they sent me a contract. And the initial contract was expecting about 350 pages, less than 100 figures. It turned out that the final book is 610 pages, about 300 figures – about twice the size that they expected.”
The book, King Crabs of the World: Biology and Fisheries Management, was a collaborative process and Stevens said it has about 23 coauthors.
“So there are a lot of people involved and some from Kodiak – Bob Otto, who was my supervisor at NOAA, wrote a really interesting chapter on the history of the king crab fisheries. It’s very readable; I learned a bunch of stuff from it. And other people wrote chapters that they specialized in. I ended up writing the introductory chapter on the distribution of king crabs around the world and I had to get up to speed on that. And I was surprised to learn how many of them there were.”
Stevens said he is used to publishing in journals, which involves a lot of peer-review.
“And I don’t know how it’s done in the book world but I did the same thing, I sent these chapters all out to different reviewers before I was willing to send them to the publisher. Except for the last chapter. The last chapter is one I wrote called the future of king crabs. And I didn’t want anybody editing it because there are some ideas and opinions in there that are strictly my own that other people might disagree with.”
In that chapter Stevens said he touches on what happened to the big stocks of king crab in the 1970s, critiques the minimum size standard in the fishery and also discusses whether certain species of crab should be fished at all.
In general, he said his hope was to create a book that was academic and scientific, but also readable. He said he feels like that was accomplished and hopes to one day see it in the wheel house of every crab fishing boat.
The book is available on Amazon and costs about $130. Stevens handed a few copies out while he was in Kodiak and said he was going to try and leave a copy in the library as well.