January 1, 2013 | Vol. 69, No. 1

Blue King Crab Delivered to Seward for Research Project

Sixteen egg-bearing blue king crab captured off St. Matthew Island in November have arrived at the Alaska King Crab Research, Rehabilitation and Biology program site in Seward to be studied for ways to increase hatchery production.

Ginny Eckert
Adult blue king crab. Photo by Ginny Eckert, editor of AKCRRAB News Flash.

Biologists with the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery said the crab were an in-kind contribution from the F/V Bristol Mariner, owned by Kevin Kaldestad and skippered by Tom Suryan.

The female crab were delivered to St. Paul, where Trident Seafoods took good care of them and staff of the Central Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association packaged and shipped the crab to Seward.

Once the crab larvae hatch in the spring, research biologists at the hatchery will utilize them to refine techniques to increase hatchery production.

Since the beginning of the AKCRRAB program in 2006, blue king crab have proven more difficult to rear in the hatchery than red king crab. In 2012, AKCRRAB biologists achieved a breakthrough, when they attained 53 percent survival of blue king crab from hatching to the first juvenile stage by modifying the diet and adjusting the seawater exchange technique.

In 2013, AKCRRAB biologists hope to replicate this success and test whether similar survival can be achieved at higher stocking densities to further increase the hatchery production capacity, the biologists said. This is part of the AKCRRAB program’s ongoing effort to utilize science and technology to help restore depleted populations of king crab and safeguard the future of Alaska’s king crab fisheries.