After completing the analysis of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) trawl survey results for Bristol Bay red king crab and Bering Sea snow crab in 2022, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) has announced that both stocks are below the regulatory threshold for opening a fishery. As a result, ADF&G has decided to cancel the harvest season for both species for the 2022/23 season.
"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", says the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's announcement. According to it, both red king crab and snow crab management must now focus on conservation and population recovery.
"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", say the officials. "This will allow ADF&G to work on issues related to state and federal co-management, observer coverage, discard mortality, and fishery viability", they concluded.
The ADF&G has expressed its appreciation for all input from crab industry stakeholders in Alaska before making this decision, assuring that it has carefully considered it. Finally, it has announced that additional information will be available during the annual meeting of ADF&G and the crab industry. The details of this meeting will be announced shortly.