Chukchi Sea crab fishery looking up

Posted: Monday, July 08, 2002

KOTZEBUE (AP) -- A survey of the potential of the Chukchi Sea crab fishery indicates the fishery is looking up after a slow start.

''We're coming back with anywhere from 50 to 60 crabs a day,'' said Bobby Richards, who along with eight other Kotzebue area crabbers is participating in the survey.

The Bering Sea Fishermen's Association is conducting the survey, which will continue into late July.

Richards described how his catch has improved as he cooked up a batch of crabs in his kitchen last week.

''We had a slow start, but they're starting to pick up. All the crab are from the shore to five miles out,'' he said. ''Commercial's been doing pretty good, but the subsistence pots have really been nailing 'em.''

Will Barber, a biologist hired by the BSFA to run the survey, said there have only been about five or six crabbing days so far. The nine boats participating in the survey have been crabbing since June 16 but strong winds have kept the boats from venturing out.

''It seems like the crabbing is picking up,'' Barber said.

The survey is focusing around Sealing Point. The nine crabbers fish the area for three days and then take a day off to evaluate the data.

The survey results will be analyzed to decide whether a small-boat commercial crab fishery makes sense.

''We came back with 60 crab,'' Richards said, dropping another crab into the pot. ''But after we got done giving them away to elders and friends, we were down to 11.''

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