Alaska Board of Fisheries Reaches Norton Sound Crab Decision

The Alaska Board of Fisheries which met in Anchorage, Alaska in March, approved three proposals from the Northern Norton Sound Advisory Committee.

They voted 6–1 to change the start of the winter commercial crab fishery for Norton Sound from Jan 15 to Feb. 1. The proposal was amended to also close the commercial crab season east of 167 degrees west longitude for 2020. The closure goes into effect for the upcoming summer commercial crab season.

A second proposal to limit the number of crab pot tags per permit holder in the winter commercial fishery was approved by a vote of 7–0. Commercial permit holders in the winter through the ice commercial crab fishery will not be able to receive replacement tags for any crab pots lost after 20 crab pot tags are issued. The advisory committee told the fisheries board that when pots were more expensive in comparison to the catch in times of lower price the harvesters were more cautious in pot placement and tending, so pot loss was much less.

A third proposal, also approved 7–0, will allow a person or vessel to participate in the Norton Sound red king crab fishery after operating commercial Pacific cod pots in the Norton Sound Section within 14 days prior to the start of the Norton Sound red king crab fishery. That proposal was amended to allow a person or vessel to operate pots up to seven days prior to the Norton Sound red king crab fishery. The proposal contended that fishing for Pacific cod in pots offered a new opportunity and that the 14-day closure before the Norton Sound red king crab fishery was a significant amount of available fishing time.