A trade association representing the majority of independent commercial harvesters of Alaska’s Bristol Bay red king and Bering Sea snow crab plans to appeal to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council during staff tasking later this week to take action to help crab stocks rebound.
Faced with closure of the Bristol Bay red king crab fishery for the season, and before they knew that the snow crab total allowable catch would be cut by nearly 90%, Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers sent a letter to NPFMC chairman Simon Kinneen urging short term emergency action to expand the Red King Crab Savings Area closure to bottom trawling to protect female Bristol Bay red king crab.
The two fisheries represent a potential combined economic loss of over $200 million.
ABSC wants the savings area expanded by shifting the northern boundary northward by one-half of a degree (30 nautical miles) of latitude to encompass a concentration of female red king crab observed there during the 2021 eastern Bering Sea trawl survey.
“This would provide immediate conservation benefits to the stock and reduce the potential for future closures of the directed fishery,” ABSC Executive Director Jamie Goen said.
ABSC plans to present comments during the staff tasking phase of the virtual fall meeting of the council, which will happen either on Thursday, Oct. 14 or Friday, Oct. 15.
Goen said that ABSC is hopeful that others will join their trade association in appealing for action.