The Board of Directors for the Norton Sound Economic Development Corp. has voted to resume purchases of Norton Sound red king crab this summer.
NSEDC is a private nonprofit corporation representing 15 member communities and about 8,500 people in the Bering Straits Region of Northwestern Alaska.
The board’s decision came after two years of decreased fishing pressure and the maturing of a new cohort of crab. The board said data now indicates that crab populations have rebounded to a level that allows for a responsible harvest.
An Alaska Department of Fish and Game 2021 summer trawl survey, which provides essential data for establishing crab harvest guidelines, showed a significant pulse of legal sized male crab moving into the fishery. Reports of productive winter subsistence fishing appear to support that finding.
Board Chairman Frank Katchatag said that it had been very difficult to see commercial harvesters sidelined for the last two years to allow the red king crab fishery to recover. He thanked the fishermen for their foresight, support and sacrifice in allowing stocks to rebuild for both subsistence and commercial harvest.
The summer commercial red king crab fishery typically begins in late June or early July. As the season progresses, NSEDC closely monitors harvests and works with stakeholders to ensure that the fishery remains sustainable.