After a highly anticipated start, Kodiak’s Tanner crab season is almost over

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Kodiak’s Tanner crab fleet spent the first two weeks of the season tied up at the docks, awaiting better prices from local seafood processors. And after a highly anticipated opener just over a week ago on Jan. 30, the season is nearly over; most of the fishery had closed by the end of the weekend. 

Boats waiting to tie up at one of Kodiak’s seafood processors, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game had closed most of the fishery over the weekend. (Brian Venua/KMXT)

Fisherman Eddie Perez was selling Tanners from his boat, the f/v Vero Victoria, on Monday morning. He had about 500 crabs on board when he pulled up to the dock – and he expected to sell out by noon.

“Everybody’s been really excited, happy that local fishermen are offering to the community and it’s been going really good,” said Perez.

Kodiak’s Tanner crab season started last Monday – two weeks after the scheduled opener, when the entire fleet refused to go fishing because of low prices from local processors. And after a few early days of heavy rain and fog, the clouds parted and fishing went fast. 

Kodiak’s Tanner crab fishery is divided into three main sections – the biggest is the Eastside, which has a harvest level of 4 million pounds of Tanners this year. Ninety-nine vessels had been fishing on the eastside of the island since fishermen set their gear last week. That entire quota was caught by the weekend, and Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game closed the area Sunday afternoon. 

Fishing is slowing down in other areas too; Fish and Game announced that the fishery’s Southeast section would close Monday evening at 5:59 p.m. Just about a quarter of the quota in the fishery’s Southwest section was left as of Monday.

This year’s harvest level for Kodiak’s entire Tanner crab fishery is 5.8 million pounds – more than five times the size of last year.

Biologists from Fish and Game expected this year’s big quota to be the peak of a cohort they’ve been watching since 2018. But Perez says he’s optimistic about the years to come.

“By what I saw, I think we got a couple more healthy seasons coming for us,” he said.

Meanwhile, more than a dozen boats were sitting on anchor just outside the downtown harbor on Monday morning. Word on the dock was that wait times to tie up at one of the local processors was four to five days.

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