The North Pacific Fishery Management Council's Crab Plan Team will meet all next week in Seattle, and a key document on the table will be this technical memorandum with the results of this year's Eastern Bering Sea bottom trawl survey.
Deckboss certainly didn't have time to read the full 172-page report, but he did manage to find these intriguing snippets regarding the two most important commercial species: Bristol Bay red king crab In 2015, an overall decrease in male red king crabs was observed compared to last year. (page 16) Bering Sea snow crab Mature male and female and pre-recruit-male abundance and biomass is substantially down from 2014, and below the previous 10-year average. However, an increase in juvenile abundance over the past 3 years provides hope for strong recruitment in upcoming years. (page 25)
A couple of tables within the report are certainly worth a look: Table 6 for red king crab (page 37) and Table 19 for snow crab (page 50). Each table indicates a big drop in "legal male" biomass in 2015 compared to 2014.
It won't be too long before fishery managers announce catch quotas for the upcoming crab fisheries, which open Oct. 15.
Jeff Regnart is stepping down as the state's commercial fisheries director, effective Oct. 2.
That's according to a note sent on behalf of Commissioner Sam Cotten to Alaska Department of Fish and Game employees.
"Jeff has done an exceptional job serving the division, the department and the state in many capacities for over two decades," the note said. "We hate to see him go, but also understand that personal reasons will take him outside the state."
Regnart was appointed commercial fisheries director in February 2011 during the Parnell administration.
Location: Kagalaska Strait Type: Commercial fish closed waters
On 2/24/15 Dutch Harbor Wildlife Troopers received information regarding three commercial trawl vessels that had fished within closed waters between 175 and 178 degrees W longitude in the Aleutian Islands area. The three vessels were the 296-foot Katie Ann operated by Daniel Skauge, of Oregon; the 102-foot Muir Milach operated by David Willmore, of Washington; and the 88-foot Aleutian Challenger operated by Michael Murdock, of Washington. Investigation revealed the three vessels made multiple tows with their trawls through state waters in violation of state regulations. A non-pelagic trawl used to harvest Pacific cod during the state waters A season may not be more than 60 feet in overall length. Skauge pled guilty to three counts of commercial fishing in closed waters, with a $6,000 fine and forfeiture of 6,989 pounds of cod. Willmore pled guilty to one count of commercial fishing in closed waters, with a $3,000 fine and forfeiture of 248,035 pounds of cod. Murdock pled guilty to one count of commercial fishing in closed waters, with a $3,000 fine and forfeiture of 138,767 pounds of cod. The approximate value of cod forfeited to the state was $106,326.
Editor's note: All three defendants entered their pleas on Aug. 25 in Unalaska District Court.