Southeast Alaska Crab Fisheries Begin Feb. 16

Southeast Alaska harvesters are gearing up for the start of the golden king and tanner crab fisheries, which open concurrently at noon on Feb. 16. The guideline harvest level for the golden king crab fishery is 625,000 pounds. Adam Messmer of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game notes that the quotas are set on a three-year basis and this is the third year for that quota allowance.

For the golden king crab fishery, vessels are limited to 100 pots; for the tanner crab fishery, 80 pots. Vessels fishing for both harvests are limited to 10 pots.

The registration deadline for both fisheries was Jan. 17 and there is a $45 late fee for registration after that date. Last year a total of 35 vessels were registered for the golden king crab fishery, which is about average, Messmer said.

In some areas with smaller quotas the golden king crab fishery can run through November, but in 2011, harvesters were done by the beginning of June, thanks to high prices. Pay at the docks started at about $6 a pound and soared to about $9.70 a pound.

The tanner crab fishery is set up differently, based on whether there is a 2.3 million pound mature male abundance, and will be open this February. Messmer said that the average price for tanner crab last year was $2.85, compared to $1.63 in 2010, and $1.78 in 2009. Last year harvesters fished in the core areas for a total of seven days and in non-core areas for 12 days.