Biologists won't reopen Bering Sea crabbing

Posted: Tuesday, April 18, 2000

KODIAK (AP) -- Despite a fisherman's appeal and the unexpected success of this year's Bering Sea snow crab fishery, federal and state regulators say there won't be an additional opening this year.

But state biologists took notice of the quick work fishermen made of the quota and are saying there may be a fishery next year. Late last year the biologists predicted that the fishery would almost certainly be closed in 2001 and could be closed in 2002 as well.

Gary Painter, an Oregon-based crab fisherman, filed an appeal with the National Marine Fisheries Service challenging the low quota and arguing for a reopening. But fisheries managers said no.

Still, said shellfish biologist Rance Morrison, ''It was strong, and that showed some hope maybe for a fishery next year.''

Morrison, based in Dutch Harbor, said biologists are still adding up numbers for this year's week-long opening, but he said it appears crabbers took around 30 million pounds.

Fish and Game set a guideline harvest level of 26 million pounds for this year, a small fraction of the 196-million-pound quota for 1999. That came after summer trawl surveys revealed a collapse in stocks.

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