State to close snow crab season Saturday

Posted: Friday, January 24, 2003

UNALASKA (AP) -- The Bering Sea snow crab fishery will close at 6 a.m. Saturday when the fleet of 191 boats is expected to have reached the quota of 23.7 million pounds, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced Thursday.

The fishery will finish in less than half the time of last year, when the fleet spent 24 days on the ground with a larger quota of 28.5 million pounds.

Fish and Game biologist Forrest Bowers attributed the faster pace to better weather. Through Thursday morning at 6 a.m., fishermen had harvested 18.8 million pounds, at a rate of 142 crabs per pot, compared to 74 in 2002.

Bowers said the speed this year was not unlike earlier years.

A request this week to increase the quota of the current fishery was denied by state fishery regulators. Regulators say Bering Sea snow crab stocks are at depressed levels. Bowers said the quota this year is perhaps the lowest ever.

The season opened Jan. 15 with processors paying fishermen $1.85 a pound for the 1.2 pound average opilio Tanner crab, marketed as snow crab.

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