Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Snow Crab Harvests Off to Slow Start

Snow crab fisheries in the Bering Sea were off to a slow start this year, the large allocation notwithstanding, but harvests were expected to improve as vessels that had been engaged in Pacific cod and bairdi tanner crab joined in the fishery.

Harvest statistics provided by NOAA Fisheries Service from Juneau showed total harvests by holders of individual fishing quota and community development quota through Jan. 3 were little more than one-third of their allocation.

Heather Fitch, area management biologist for shellfish at Dutch Harbor for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said that actually the harvest through that date was pretty close to where the fishery was a year ago. In fact, the last three years had gotten off to a slow start and data is not indicating that this year is slower than last year, she said.

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 IFQ fishery, landings rose from 178 on Feb. 2 to 192 on Feb. 3, for a snow crab harvest total of 23,402,226 pounds, or 38 percent of the allowable catch of 61,155,000 pounds, leaving 38,549,484 pounds to catch.

CDQ vessels meanwhile had made 14 landings with a total catch of 2,448,444 pounds, or 36 percent of their 6,795,000 pound allocation, leaving another 4,346,556 pounds to catch.

In the Eastern Bering Sea bairdi tanner crab fishery, through Feb. 3, 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 pound, 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.

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