Harvest Mounts for Alaska’s Norton Sound King Crab Summer Fishery

Image via Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Harvests are mounting for Norton Sound king crab summary fishery, with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game forecasting that entire guidelines harvest level of 308,623 pounds expected to be harvested this week.

The Norton Sound king crab summer open access commercial fishery began on June 15. Eight permit holders for the 2022 winter commercial fishery harvested 7,357 pounds of the 27,328-pound guideline harvest level for the winter fishery. According to ADF&G biologists the average weight of the king crab caught in this fishery is about 2.8 pounds.

The total Norton Sound red king crab guideline harvest level is 341,600 pounds, with 7.5% of that total reserved for the community development quota fishery. As of July 8, a total of 169,000 pounds of red king crab had been caught in the summer open access commercial fishery, a total that includes crab sold, dead loss and drab retained for personal use. ADF&G continues to monitor catch rates and said that the fishery may close with short notice. Holders of commercial crab permits were advised that they must register at the ADF&G office in Nome to receive crab pot tags before heading out to harvest the crab.

While harvesting the permit holders were required to be in possession of their 2022 Norton Sound king crab commercial permit and government issued ID card or driver’s license.

The Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation in Nome voted this past spring to purchase king crab caught in this summary fishery. NSEDC officials said that vote came after two years of decreased fishing pressure and the maturing of a new cohort of crab, with data indicating that crab populations there have rebounded to a level that allows for responsible harvest.

NSEDC has not yet identified markets it will sell into with the 2022 catch.