The North Pacific Fishery Management Council just passed an amendment to compensate for the exit of one processor from Tanner crab processing last year.
John McCracken, an economist with the staff of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, stepped up on Friday during the Council meeting in Kodiak to talk about the amendment.
He explained Icicle Seafood’s departure resulted in the consolidation of the processing companies covering the A-shares in IFQ and Tanner.
“And a result, 10 percent is stranded or remain unharvested. It’s equivalent to about 4 million pounds. To process 10 ten percent of tanner crab, an unaffiliated processor would be necessary. There are very few unaffiliated processors that are active today.”
McCracken said the distance from the tanner crab grounds of the two available processors, Kodiak and Adak, would drive up delivery cost for the Class-A IFQ holders.
The existence of unprocessed crab means that the IPQ cap of 30 percent is slowing down operations for Bering Sea tanner crab fisheries.
That’s a problem the Council addressed with a motion that would exempt tanner crab fisheries from the IPQ use caps.
The Council passed that exemption unanimously with the condition that the Council would explore several issues through a discussion paper, including a possible limit on exemptions to years when processing capacity is low. It might also investigate alternative solutions.
As stated in the meeting packet, the National Marine Fisheries Service may now begin rulemaking to relieve the restriction of caps on the tanner crab fisheries for the 2016 / 2017 tanner crab fishing season.