Fishermen's News - The Advocate for the Commercial Fisherman

Snow Crab Harvests Picking Up After Slow January Start

 

Opilio crab fishing. Photo: Chris Miller, ASMI.

Snow crab fisheries in the Bering Sea got off to a slow start this year, then grew in harvests in early February with increased landings by harvesters holding both individual fishing quota and community development quota.

As of Feb. 9, NOAA Fisheries Service in Juneau said that IFQ vessels had landed 45 percent of their 61,155,000 pound allocation, with 223 landings – up from 192 landings a week earlier – totally 27,477,728 pounds of snow crab, with 33,677,272 pounds remaining.

For the same time period, community development quota permit holders had harvested 40 percent of their 6,795,000 pound quota of snow crab, a total of 2,733,379 pounds, leaving another 4,061,621 pounds left to harvest.

Heather Fitch, area management biologist for shellfish at Dutch Harbor for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, noted that the previous three years also had gotten off to a slow start and data indicated that this year is not slower than last.

While sea ice has not been a problem, the flat calm and beautiful weather that prevailed when the fishery opened turned stormy toward the end of January, and some vessels expected to join in the snow crab fishery had been busy harvesting Pacific cod and bairdi tanner crab, she said.

In the Eastern Bering Sea bairdi tanner crab fishery, through Feb. 9, IFQ harvesters made 184 vessel landings with 7,194,793 pounds, or 94 percent of the 7,632,000- pound allocation, leaving 437,207 pounds of bairdi to catch.

In the CDQ fishery, there were 13 landings, totaling 820,992 pounds, or 97 percent of the 848,000-pound allocation, with 27,008 pounds to catch.

IFQ holders of quota shares in the Eastern Aleutian Islands golden king crab fishery have made 37 landings, but available data did not say what percentage of the 2,979,000-pound allocation had been harvested to date.

The Eastern Aleutian Islands golden king crab fishery for the CDQ harvesters ended after 4 vessel landings with 331,011 pounds, for 100 percent of the allocation.

In the Pacific cod fishery, meanwhile, the harvest for the trawl fleet weighed in at 1,200 metric tons through Jan. 31, compared with a little over 7,000 metric tons for the same period a year ago, said Krista Milani, a NOAA resource management specialist for sustainable fisheries at Dutch Harbor.

Catcher processor longliners had a harvest of 14,388 metric tons through Jan. 31, compared with 14,975 metric tons for the same period last year.

While weather plays a role in this harvest, there might be other issues, from prices to the fish being schooled up, and more boats that normally fish for Pacific cod were fishing snow carb this year because of the high allocation, she said.

In the pollock fishery, a mix of factory trawlers and catcher vessels harvested 58,252 metric tons through Jan. 31, up from 44,046 metric tons for the same period a year ago, Milani said.

 
 

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