Trident Seafoods, bracing for an exceptionally large amount of snow crab in the Bering Sea, has hired on an additional 60 workers for its processing facilities at St. Paul Island.
Joe Plesha, chief legal counsel for the Seattle based seafood company, said yesterday that the last of those workers was arriving this week, making a full crew of some 320 workers. “We’re doing this because of a larger quota, substantially larger this year than last year,” Plesha said.
Trident facilities at St. Paul Island have the greatest capacity in the northern region of the Bering Sea for crab processing. Only one other company has processing facilities in that region.
The total allowable catch aside, the harvest will be dictated somewhat by weather conditions, which can be particularly harsh in winter months in the Bering Sea.
As mid-January approached, temperatures ranged from the low teens up to about 30 degrees, with snow showers more likely than not, and winds up to 40 miles an hour.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced in early October a Bering Sea snow crab season with a total allowable quota of 88,894,000 pounds of snow crab, including 80,004,600 to holders of individual fishing quota and 8,889,400 pounds for community development quota groups.
A year earlier, the state agency had the total quota set at 54,281,000, including 48,852,900 pounds of the opilio to holders of individual fishing quota and 5,428,100 allocated to community development quota groups.
The quota is set each year based on analysis of a National Marine Fisheries Service trawl survey of Bering Sea snow crab stocks.
The 2011/2012 total allowable catch is based on abundance and biomass estimates from the NMFS stock assessment model.
There is no pot limit or buoy tag requirement for the Bering Sea snow crab fishery. Vessel operators may register up to 20 groundfish pots and may register gear operation cooperatives with other registered vessels.