ALASKA'S CRAB FISHERIES
Our crab fisheries are co-managed by the State of Alaska through the Board of Fisheries and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG), as well as by the federal government through the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS or NOAA Fisheries). The Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers works collaboratively with both federal and state agencies, as well as the Bering Sea Fisheries Research Foundation, to work across industry sectors towards fishery management solutions that are sustainable for the resource and beneficial to the fishing businesses and communities that rely on it.
Fishing vessels docked in Dutch Harbor, AK. Photo: Bri Dwyer
The State of Alaska sets the annual harvest levels (called the total allowable catch or TACs) for Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) crab fisheries and regulates certain fisheries requirements, including seasons, gear, and fishing areas. Alaska’s Board of Fisheries is the state governing body for changes to the state crab fishery regulations (whether in state or federal waters). Paired with this, the federal government co-manages the BSAI crab resource by determining the health of the crab resource according to federal standards for fish stocks. In addition, the Council and NOAA Fisheries oversee the BSAI Crab Rationalization Program through the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs Fishery Management Plan and its implementing regulations. In addition, NOAA Fisheries issues quota annually based on the TAC set by the State of Alaska.
State Waters Crab
Alaska’s Board of Fisheries will be discussing the following board-generated proposal at their upcoming Statewide Finfish and Supplemental Issues meeting in Anchorage, March 9-12, 2019:
Create a king and Tanner crab fishery west of 170 degrees longitude for vessels under 60 feet (newly assigned Proposal 180 which was accepted as a board generated proposal at the 2018 Alaska Peninsula, Chignik, Bering Sea, and Aleutian Islands Pacific cod meeting).
BAIRDI HARVEST STRATEGY and OTHER CRAB MANAGEMENT CHANGES
Alaska’s Board of Fisheries are scheduled to discuss crab fisheries every 3 years with their next meeting being in March 2020. They will be discussing the bairdi harvest strategy and other crab management changes at their Statewide King and Tanner Crab and Supplemental Issues meeting scheduled for March 7-11, 2020, in Anchorage. Proposals are due in April 2019. More information on the meeting and submitting proposals is available here.
HALIBUT POTS IN THE BERING SEA
At the their October 2018 meeting, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) adopted retention of halibut in longline or single pots in the Bering Sea in the halibut and sablefish IFQ fishery.
Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers provided a public comment letter on halibut pots supporting the new gear for halibut fishing as a way for them to avoid whale depredation but flagged our concern over crab bycatch. Over the next year or so, halibut fishers and crabbers are to work together to design halibut pots that let legal size crab escape or keeps them out in the first place. Next steps are for NOAA Fisheries to develop regulations implementing halibut pot gear in the Bering Sea.