Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Healthy, and safe under the ice

As we've reported recently, fishermen are having a hard time catching this season's Bering Sea snow crab quota. But that's because of interference from sea ice, not a lack of crabs.

Yesterday, the National Marine Fisheries Service declared the snow crab stock officially "rebuilt" from its crash in 1999. That's according to the agency's annual Status of U.S. Fisheries report to Congress.

Here's what NMFS had to say about snow crab:

The important role stock assessments and sustainably managed fisheries play in the U.S. economy is demonstrated by the recent rebuilding of the Bering Sea snow crab fishery. In 1999, scientists found that snow crab stock was overfished. In response, managers cut harvests for the following fishing seasons to a level that would allow the stock to recover. Under conservative harvest levels, Alaska snow crab has rebounded and is now above its target population level. This is good news for the resource and for fishermen, too. An abundant resource can sustainably support higher harvests, and managers boosted the harvest limit for 2011/2012 by 64 percent. This increase in harvest of Bering Sea snow crab is anticipated to have a multi-million dollar benefit to the U.S. economy, fishermen, and the seafood industries that depend on this resource.

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