Kodiak fishermen get ready for tanner crab harvest

Posted: Wednesday, January 09, 2002

KODIAK (AP) -- Tanner crab pots will go into Kodiak waters next week again as fishermen get their second chance since 1994 to harvest crabs in two sections of the Kodiak District.

The fishery opens at noon Tuesday in the northeast and the eastside sections. Last year 144 boats caught 510,406 pounds worth $1,173,934 in the two sections.

The guideline harvest this year remains 500,000 pounds for the two sections. However, the northeast district level has increased by 25,000 to 300,000 pounds while the eastside district's 200,000 pounds reflects a corresponding decrease.

Dave Jackson, biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, expects the fishing effort to increase slightly this season.

''Fishermen are afraid of the specter of limited entry,'' he said. ''They expect that someday it will come, and they don't know what years will qualify. They want to keep their names in the hat.''

Cook Inlet Processing plant manager Tim Blott said that a small-scale fishery such as the local tanner season is not a moneymaker for processors.

''We process to provide markets for our fishermen,'' he said.

Jeff Stephen of the United Fishermen's Marketing Association said that the UFMA will not negotiate price because the small quota is so small. Last year the price per pound was $2.30.

The tanner crab fishery in the Kodiak District peaked during the 1977-78 season when 148 boats hauled in more than 33 million pounds. Fishermen lifted almost 252 thousand pots with an average of 49 crabs per pot. At 43 cents a pound those crabs were worth over $14 million.

Harvests dropped from 12 million pounds in 1985 to just under 9 million in 1986 and continued to wane, with only small surges, until all sections were finally closed in 1994.

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