NOAA Releases Eastern Bering Sea Crab Survey

A new NOAA Fisheries report on the eastern Bering Sea bottom trawl survey shows that the overall biomass and abundance of Bristol Bay red king crab remains relatively stable, although there has been a decline in legal male crab.

The draft 2019 Eastern Bering Sea Continental Shelf Trawl Survey, which was released last week, points out that the number of mature and legal red king crab males in the Pribilof Islands have increased, while females and immature males have declined or remained about the same. Both red king crab populations saw an increase in pre-recruit abundance.

Blue king crab biomass and abundance increased overall, except for the Pribilof Islands immature females, since none were caught in the survey, the draft report reads.

Biomass and abundance of Tanner crab have declined for legal and mature males. Numbers of females and immature males remained about the same, except for the biomass of immature males, east of 166 degrees west, which increased.
According to the report, there was an overall increase in legal, mature and pre-recruit male snow crab, while immature males and all females declined.

The 2019 Eastern Bering Sea bottom trawl survey included 375 total bottom trawls conducted between June 3 and July 28 over an area from the southeast corner of Bristol Bay, moving east to west and fishing with the northernmost stations.

In addition to the standard assessment survey to collect specific biological data from particular crab species, the Alaska Fisheries Science Center conducted seven other projects, including collection of live, mature, egg-bearing female snow and Tanner crab for studies with larval growth and hatching, as well as crab specimens for the observer training collection.