Red king crab season to open in Bristol Bay, but no Bering Sea snow crab fishery this season

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Bristol Bay’s red king crab season will open as planned on Oct. 15. The Bering Sea snow crab fishery, however, will stay closed for the 2023-2024 season, a decision that was made after the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s recent meetings, prompting the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to enact the closure due to sustainability concerns.

Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for Bristol Bay red king crabs will be 2.1 million pounds.

Crab are jointly managed in Alaska by the Department of Fish and Game and the federal government. Fish and Game issued the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) on Thursday.

Last year marked a historical turning point as the snow crab fishery was shuttered for the first time ever, due to concerns over longevity of crab stocks. In 2023, both the snow crab and Bristol Bay’s red king crab fishery was put on ice.

Snow crab has all but disappeared in the eastern Bering Sea. Bristol Bay Red King Crab, which would open October 15, is at historic lows. Tanner crab is at the lower end of its historic abundance, according to the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, a trade group.

“These crab fisheries have been under the most sophisticated management system in the world — what the North Pacific Fishery Management Council calls a ‘rationalized’ fishery — where effort (the number of vessels) is consolidated and harvesters are issued catch shares based on their past history. Rationalization is designed to protect the resource and ensure sustainable harvests,” the group said.

The news is significant for the red king crab, whose stock numbers have rebounded to 2.15 million pounds, slightly below the 2.6 million pounds recorded in 2020.

The annual meeting of Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands crab industry with Alaska Department of Fish and Game staff is planned for Oct. 12. The hybrid meeting is open to the public and will begin at 10 a.m. AKDT. Topics to review include 2023/24 total allowable catch calculations for Bristol Bay red king crab and Bering Sea Tanner crab and discussion on the Bering Sea snow crab closure.

28 COMMENTS

  1. “KING crab”. That’s sexist! And patriarchal!

    I’m surprised that Chrissy Constant has not yet introduced a motion into the Anchorage Ass-embly to rename king crab as “queen crab”.

  2. Where have all the crab gone? It’s time to reign in the Seattle based factory trawl fleet that is decimating the crab, halibut, king salmon populations in Alaska. It is way past time for the NPFMC to seriously consider a moratorium on ALL trawling in Alaska Territorial waters.

    • Where have all the king crab gone?
      Long time passing
      Where have all the king crab gone?
      Long time ago.
      Where have all the king crab gone?
      Seattle picked them, every one
      When will we ever learn?
      When will we ever learn?

      • I am over here hooting and laughing my head off. Whoever you are, Jefferson, I love your sense of humor. I always look for your comments to make my day!

      • It also made my day..Thanks..It reminds me when I worked on the Kodiak Crab line back in 73-74..And we remember when they (King crab) disappeared around the Island.

      • There aren’t any Russian factory trawlers operating in Alaska. The horrendous bycatch problems occurring in the Bering Sea & Gulf of Alaska are a result of the Seattle based, USA flagged, factory trawler fleet and the corrupt politicians and bureaucrats at both the State and Federal level, who protect them!

        • It’s people who’s grandparents got rich in the 70s, come back from Seattle and Idaho to finish emptying the purse.

      • I remember when it was the Japanese fishing fleets(73-74++) raking the sea floor with lug chains as they left AFTER the Kodiak districts were closed. or as I heard it way back then…

  3. North Pacific Fishery Management Council is not doing a good job. They are influenced by to many outside entities and politics. The biologists making predictions are basically rolling the dice, and we end up hurting the crab population.

  4. I’m looking at the Sunday rag they call the anchorage daily news, b section. Title,,, marine mammals in us waters loosing food and habitat to climate change. What a crock! These mammals can’t find any food for the same reason there’s no snow crab! Corporate greed. Let’s start calling it what it is! Greed!

  5. Sadly the only crabs the serfs will be able to afford will be buster the body crab.
    Real King Crab will only be found in the Biden’s Whitehouse Dining Hall where they will be playing an Eric Clapton original “Cocaine” after the big feast with a very special guest dressed up like “Major” and “Commander”….Sam Brinton.
    I just love that boy Hunter!

  6. Bristol Bay’s red king crab season will open as planned on Oct. 15? Absolute crazy management.

    Back in 1980 the Bering Sea, red king crab commercial harvest peaked at 130 million pounds annually. That commercial over-harvest caused a red king crab (crash) from then until today. We now expect about 2.1 million pounds of red king crab for 2023. This fishery caught 2.65 million pounds in 2020. The commercial fleet is catching 2.3% of what they use to catch back in 1980 and they refer to that as a reprieve from being shut down?

    These crab cannot rebound because commercial fisheries have greedily soaked up the nitrogen nutrient base that use to abound in the North Pacific. Most of that was the result of rotting salmon carcasses. Commercial fisheries branded rotting salmon as “Over Escapement” 50 years ago and have been selling that nitrogen for massive profits ever since. Now with the Pacific at a 50 year nitrogen low and salmon and crab populations unable to rebound because of low nitrogen levels, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council activates a ‘rationalized’ fishery that allows commercial harvesters on a past fisheries history? A fishery based on what you use to catch, and they call that sustainable?

    The NPFMC needs to close down all commercial crab fishing for 5 to 10 years and make specific salmon escapement goals for biogenetic fertilization. Closing the crab fishing would establish a crab rebound and the salmon escapement goals would fuel the rebound. These crab cannot rebound without surplus nitrogen for fuel.

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