The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is set to hear during its December meeting an analysis of likely conservation benefits and impacts of an emergency rule shifting the Red King Crab Savings Area boundary further north in the eastern Bering Sea.
The council requested the analysis as a result of the 2021 eastern Bering Sea bottom trawl survey, which showed a continued decrease in mature female red king crab and the state of Alaska calculated abundance estimate for mature female red king crab of 7.9 million crab. This is below the threshold of 8.4 million female red king crab required for a directed fishery.
The council requested the analysis to assess whether extension of the savings area would boost the likelihood of a directed red king crab fishery in the future.
The analysis assesses the immediate conservation benefits for female red king crab and whether an emergency rule would improve the likelihood of holding a directed fishery. The analysis also evaluates the impacts of the boundary extension on red king crab abundance, other prohibited species catch species and harvests of groundfish. The analysis was to be made available today, Nov. 24, to the council and the public.
During its October meeting the council tasked staff with producing a discussion paper on the impact of bottom contact by pelagic trawl gear on the Bristol Bay Red Kind Crab stocks, boundaries used for the survey, stock assessment and prohibiting species catch limits. Also on the list of discussion paper subjects was an exploration of mechanisms for creating flexible, responsive spatial management measures for all gear types that might be applied to protect this crab.
Virtual council sessions are set for Dec. 8-10 and Dec. 13-16.
Other major topics on the agenda include the charter halibut fishery, Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands halibut abundance-based management and final harvest specifications for groundfish in 2022 for the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Alaska.
Watch the meeting on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCokqSfpL9TzRDX-5A6idcgw/featured from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Alaska time /9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time, daily.