Small-boat Tanner crabbing OK'd for January
For the first time in two years, small-boat fishermen will have a little Tanner crab season in the eastern Aleutian Islands. It's small enough for maybe two boats in the state-waters fishery, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Two of the three districts are closed again. There's no crabbing for the 58-foot-and-smaller vessels in the Akutan section, or Unalaska Bay. But Makushin Bay opens Jan. 15 with a 35,000-pound quota, according to ADF&G Biologist Miranda Westphal in Unalaska. The department is expecting one or two vessels to participate, she said.
Makushin is located on the northwest side of Unalaska Island.
Fish and Game on Nov. 28 announced the analysis of trawl survey results for the Eastern Aleutian District Tanner crab stock. The 2017 trawl survey estimates of mature male Tanner crab abundance were compared to established regulatory thresholds for the Unalaska/Kalekta Bay, Makushin/Skan Bay, and Akutan sections. For a fishery opening, survey estimated mature male abundance must be greater than a threshold level of mature male abundance in each section.
Akutan Section: The 2017 survey abundance estimate of mature male Tanner crab in the Akutan Section is 99,178 crab which is below the threshold of 200,000 crab, required for a fishery opening. Therefore, the Akutan Section will be closed during the 2018 season.
The 2017 survey abundance estimate of mature male Tanner crab in the Makushin/Skan Bay Section is 291,480 crab, which is above the threshold of 45,000 crab required for a fishery opening. The guideline harvest level, or quota, is set at 35,000 pounds.
The 2017 survey abundance estimate of mature male Tanner crab in the Unalaska/Kalekta Bay Section is 63,848 crab, which is below the threshold of 65,000 crab required for a fishery opening. Therefore, the Unalaska/Kalekta Bay Section will be closed during the 2018 season.
Preseason registration forms must be received by ADF&G in Unalaska/Dutch Harbor by 5 p.m. Dec. 24. Preseason registration forms are available at the Dutch Harbor office and online. The number of vessels that preseason register will be used to establish the pot limit for the 2018 season. Information regarding pot limits, buoy tag sales, tank inspections and inseason catch reporting will be announced via news release after the preseason registration deadline.
The EAD commercial Tanner crab fishery will open at noon on Jan. 15. ADF&G will monitor the fishery inseason, and closure prior to achieving the GHL could result if preseason expectations of fishery performance are not met.