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Alaska - Bering Sea king and snow crab seasons canceled amid population declines

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  • Alaska - Bering Sea king and snow crab seasons canceled amid population declines

    Bering Sea king and snow crab seasons canceled amid population declines

    By Kirsten Dobroth, KMXT - Kodiak -October 12, 2022

    For the first time ever, the Bering Sea snow crab fishery will not open for the upcoming season. Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game announced the closure Monday afternoon. The Bristol Bay red king crab fishery will also be closed this year — for a second year in a row.
    Miranda Westphal, an area management biologist with Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game, said the sudden decline in snow crab came as a shock to biologists as well.

    Back in 2018, there was record recruitment in the Bering Sea snow crab stock. Those numbers started to go down in 2019, and there was no survey in 2020 due to the pandemic.

    “And then in 2021 when they surveyed, we saw the largest decline we’ve ever seen in the snow crab population, which was very startling, I think, for everyone,” Westphal said. “It wasn’t something we expected, we were expecting to have this record recruitment come through the population.”

    The quota was down about 90% from 2020; this year’s population numbers were even worse, according to Westphal, prompting the fishery’s closure.

    Division of Commercial Fisheries
    Sam Rabung, Director
    Dutch Harbor Area Office
    PO Box 920587
    Dutch Harbor, AK 99692

    Alaska Department of Fish and Game
    Doug Vincent-Lang, Commissioner
    PO Box 115526
    Juneau, AK 99811-5526

    Advisory Announcement
    For Immediate Release: 10/10/2022

    Miranda Westphal, Area Management Biologist
    Ethan Nichols, Asst. Area Management Biologist

    2022/23 Bering Sea Snow Crab Season Closed

    The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) have
    completed analysis of 2022 NMFS trawl survey results for Bering Sea snow crab. The stock is estimated to be
    below the ADF&G regulatory threshold for opening a fishery. Therefore, Bering Sea snow crab will remain closed
    for the 2022/23 season.

    ADF&G appreciates and carefully considered all input from crab industry stakeholders prior to making this
    decision. Understanding crab fishery closures have substantial impacts on harvesters, industry, and communities,
    ADF&G must balance these impacts with the need for long-term conservation and sustainability of crab stocks.
    Management of Bering Sea snow crab must now focus on conservation and rebuilding given the condition of the
    stock. Efforts to advance our science and understanding of crab population dynamics are underway. With crab
    industry input, ADF&G will continue to evaluate options for rebuilding, including potential for sustainably
    fishing during periods of low abundance. This will allow ADF&G to work on issues related to state and federal
    co-management, observer coverage, discard mortality, and fishery viability.

    Additional information will be available during the annual ADF&G/Crab Industry meeting. Meeting details will
    be announced shortly.

    For questions regarding federal Crab Rationalization Program regulations, contact NOAA Fisheries Sustainable
    Fisheries Division at (907) 586-7228 or the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement in Kodiak at (907) 486-3298 or
    Dutch Harbor at (907) 581-2061.
    For further information contact ADF&G Dutch Harbor at (907) 581-1239, or ADF&G Kodiak at (907) 486-1840.
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