Fishermen gear up for Bistol Bay red king crab season

Posted: Tuesday, October 03, 2000

KODIAK (AP) -- Crab fishermen are gearing up for the Bristol Bay red king crab season in a couple of weeks.

The fishermen are faced with lower pot limits and smaller quotas, but the prospect of higher prices is keeping hopes buoyed that the season, to begin Oct. 15, will be a good one.

Processors in Dutch Harbor and most of the Bering Sea paid $6.25 a pound for king crab last year. Dan Donley, a crew member aboard the Jeanoah, said he has heard talk of prices between $5.50 to $8 a pound.

''There is still money in it,'' Donley said. ''It's a good way of life if you can work long hours and like to work hard.''

The quota is 7.7 million pounds, down from 10.1 million pounds last year. The 40 vessels allowed in the fishery under American Fisheries Act can catch no more than 10.81 percent of the quota, or 835,000 pounds.

Besides the 7.7 million pound open-access quota, 636,000 pounds of red king crab will be harvested under the CDQ, or Community Development Quota, program. Last year, the CDQ quota was 500,000 pounds.

State regulations require fisheries managers to lower the number of pots fished if the quota falls below 9 million pounds for the Bristol Bay red crab season. Therefore, boats 125 feet in length or less can fish 100 pots this year compared to 160 in 1999. Boats greater than 125 feet can fish 125 pots, down from 200 last year.

Of the 30 catcher processors who used to fish, only 10 fished last year, said Forrest Bowers, Alaska Department of Fish and Game area management biologist in Dutch Harbor.

''If past performance is any indicator, this year's fishery could certainly be shorter than 5 days,'' Bowers said.

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