Preseason vessel registration begins this Friday, Aug. 18, for the 2023-2024 Bristol Bay red king crab, Eastern Bering Sea Tanner crab, Western Bering Sea Tanner crab and Bering Sea snow crab fisheries.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) biologists say registration is necessary to determine the number of observers needed to meet fishery coverage goals, and does not imply a fishery will be opened.
The first observer training program for this season is planned for Sept. 18 through Oct. 6.
For this season, ADF&G has modified the vessel selection plan for the Bristol Bay red king crab, Bering Sea snow, Eastern and Western Bairdi Tanner crab fisheries. To ensure observer coverage goals are met, all vessels pre-season registered for these fisheries will be selected for observer coverage.
ADF&G is reminding vessel owners than it is the responsibility of the vessel captain to contact Saltwater Inc. at (907) 539-2548 to arrange for observer coverage, to include if they choose not to participate in the fisheries.
Failure to provide a minimum of 10 days advance notice prior to vessel departure may delay fishing operations or result in enforcement action, Fish & Game has said. Observer coverage waivers won’t be issued if an observer isn’t available due to lack of sufficient notice, ADF&G advised.
While all vessels will be selected to carry an observer, observer coverage waivers will be issued based on observer availability and the percentage of active vessels already covered when individual vessel fishing plans are declared with Saltwater, Inc.
ADF&G officials said that full selection will ensure an adequate number of vessels will be available to carry an observer should fleet consolidation occur.
Fish & Game has said that it anticipates deploying observers in 2023-24 at rates consistent with past years: 20% vessel coverage for Bristol Bay red king crab, 30% for snow crab, and 30-100% coverage for Tanner crab.
If selected, catcher vessels will be required to carry an observer during 100% of their fishing operations. Catcher vessel observer coverage for these fisheries is contracted and paid for by ADF&G.