Progress Report Updated on Raising Kodiak Red King Crab in Hatcheries

Research aimed at boosting stocks of Kodiak red king crab
will take a big step forward this fall, with the experimental release of
thousands of hatchery-raised juveniles at Cozy Cove near Old Harbor on Kodiak
Island. Biologists hope to measure the effects of release density on the growth
and survival of juvenile crab in their first year.
Biologists at the Kodiak laboratory of the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration will monitor the field sites to determine the
best density for potential future releases. There will also be trawl surveys to
estimate predator abundance and tethering experiments to help determine
relative predation risks to the juvenile crab.
Meanwhile, at the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery in
Seward, some 360,000 Kodiak red king crab larvae are stocked in six 1,200 liter
The larvae are feeding on enriched Artemia and microalgae
that biologists say yielded the highest hatchery survival rate in previous years.
According to the biologists with the Alaska King Crab Research, Rehabilitation
and Biology Program, also known as AKCRRAB, the larvae are now reaching the
last larval stage – glaucothoe.
The biologists say this is the first year of a planned
multiyear set of experiments designed to develop optimal release strategies for
red king crab, and to estimate the economic efficiency of a possible wild
release program.
The Alaska King Crab Research, Rehabilitation and Biology
program is a research and rehabilitation project
sponsored by community groups, industry members, NOAA Fisheries, the Alutiiq
Pride Shellfish Hatchery, the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of
Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, and the Alaska Sea Grant College Program. Its
goal is to enhance depressed king crab populations throughout Alaska.
Partners also include the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community
Development Association, the Central Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association,
Chugach Regional Resources Commission, Norton Sound Economic Development Corp.,
and the United Fishermen’s Marketing Association at Kodiak.
Other supporters and sponsors include Alaska Bering Sea
Crabbers, the Alaska Legislature, Bering Sea Fisheries Research Foundation, the
Groundfish Forum, Gulf of Alaska Coastal Communities Coalition, Kenai Peninsula
Borough, Kodiak Island Borough, the cities of Kodiak and Seward, the Pribilof
Island communities of St. Paul and St. George, Santa Monica Seafoods, and
United Fishermen of Alaska.