Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers are proposing quick action by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council when the federal fisheries managers begin their virtual October meeting today, Oct. 6.
The trade association, which represents most of the independent crab harvesters of king, snow and Tanner crab, is asking for limited, short-term emergency action to expand the red king crab savings area closure to bottom trawling to protect female Bristol Bay red king crab.
Combined with closure of the directed fishery, this requested action is expected to provide immediate conservation benefits to the stock and reduce the potential of a continued closure of the directed crab fishery next year, said Jamie Goen, executive director of Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers.
Commercial Bering Sea crab harvesters are facing a $200 million hit if recommendations from scientists are adopted this week by the council. And that economic damage grows when into consideration the impact on processors, communities and others in the supply chain. Goen says that the Bering Sea crab fleet and the fishing communities around Alaska and the Pacific Northwest are bracing for a devastating blow to their industry and crabbers want the federal fisheries board to take new conservation steps.
Goen says more protections are needed for the female red king crab to help them rebound.
“What we are proposing with an emergency closed area and requested voluntary industry actions from all fishing sectors should help crab stocks rebound and hopefully allow us to have a fishery next year,” she said.
The crabbers want all sectors, including their own, to reduce fishing impacts on crab through voluntary industry actions. ABSC is urging all sectors, including their own, to avoid crab closed areas, improve their hotspot reporting alerting other fishermen on areas of crab to avoid, and to use best handling practices to reduce cab mortality by limiting the amount of time crab are on deck and by gently returning them to the water.
Details on crab issues, as well as a dozen written comment on the matter are posted on the council’s website at https://meetings.npfmc.org/Meeting/Details/2352