Thursday, September 10, 2015

Are Alaska crab quotas headed for a fall?

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.

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