Fishermen look at healthy increase in crab quota

Posted: Sunday, August 18, 2002

KODIAK (AP) -- The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced its harvest guideline for Bristol Bay crabs on Friday, and fishermen can look forward to a healthy increase.

The agency set its harvest guideline at just over 9 million pounds for the Bristol Bay red king fishery. That's up from the 7.15 million pound quota set last year. Fishermen almost met that quota, catching nearly 7.8 million pounds in 2001.

The 2002 National Marine Fisheries Service survey indicated an effective spawning biomass of 37.71 million pounds. Officials said that was a decline of 12 percent from last year.

But the estimate of mature males actually increased 13 percent with legal males up 3 percent.

Fish and Game set the guideline harvest level for this year at 8,575,202 pounds for the general fishery and 695,287 for the CDQ fishery.

Deadline to register for the fishery in 5 p.m. Sept. 24. The season begins Oct. 15. There will be no fishing for St. Matthew blue king crab or Pribilof red and blue king crab this year.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced the results of their analysis of National Marine Fisheries Service survey results Thursday.

The numbers are low for St. Mattew blue king crab of both sexes and all size categories. Officials estimate there are 4.7 million pounds of mature crab, well below the 11 million-pound threshold needed to open a fishery.

In the Pribilof District, the blue king crab survey indicated there are 338,000 mature male crab. The minimum threshold for a fishery in 770,000.

The survey estimate of red king crab in the Pribilof District is approximately half the 2001 estimate. Officials feel this is not due to an actual decline but an overestimation of the 2001 stocks.

Biologists said the red and blue king crab fishery in the district will remain closed for the 2002 season due to the continued decline in the blue king crab stock, the uncertainty surrounding the estimate for red king crab, poor fishery performance in recent years and concern for blue king crab bycatch.

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