Fishermen's News - The Advocate for the Commercial Fisherman

Bristol Bay Red King Crab Harvest is 6.59 Million Pounds


February 1, 2018

Bristol Bay red king crab were the crab were a little bit further into the bay this year, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Photo by David Csepp courtesy of NOAA.

Commercial harvesters of Bristol Bay red king crab wrapped up their season in mid-November with a catch of 6,588,452 pounds, just shy of the 6.601,000-pound quota.

"We consider that 100 percent caught," said Miranda Westphal, area management biologist at Dutch Harbor for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

"It was about what we anticipated," Westphal said. "We knew from the survey that fishing would be down a little bit this season. The survey numbers were down. They were having a harder time finding the crab and the crab were a little bit further into the bay," she said.

Whether that location of the crab was due to ocean temperature changes or the availability of food for the crab is uncertain, she said.

The red king crab were bigger than what we have seen in the recent past, Westphal noted. In recent years, they averaged about 6.6 pounds per crab and this year averaged 6.8 pounds, she said.

A total of 61 boats were registered for the red king crab fishery, which averages 60-70 vessels.

The Western bering sea tanner crab fishery was still under way with 1,253,000 pounds harvested out of a quota of 2,500,200 pounds. "Fishing is actually going fairly well, but there has not been a lot of participation, she said. "Most of the boats right now are taking a break for the holidays, but we expect everyone to come back out in January."

Westphal said she had heard anecdotally that most of the catch so far was old shell crab.

Fifteen vessels are registered for this fishery, which was closed a year ago.

No significant catch of snow crab, with an 18,961,000-pound quota, was recorded through late November.


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