Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Opilio Crab Catch Grows as Harvesters Struggle With Ice at St. Paul Harbor

The challenge of massive amounts of ice on the waters notwithstanding, more than 30 million pounds of the 88,894,000 allowable harvest of snow crab was delivered through Feb. 21, and more should be coming in soon if weather forecasts are true.

According to Heather Fitch, area management biologist for shellfish at the Dutch Harbor office of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the forecast is for the ice that has been blocking a number of deliveries at St Paul will be north of the island within a week. The presence of massive amounts of ice at St Paul earlier in February made it impossible for some boats to make any deliveries to St. Paul.

Trident Seafoods hired a tugboat to help break up the ice at St. Paul.

Meanwhile in Juneau, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, program administrator Jessica Gharrett of NOAA’s restricted access management program had the latest harvest figures Feb. 21.

In the northern section 13,366,409 pounds, of opilios, or 40.51 percent of the allowable 32,992,600 pounds had been landed. Another 14,011,960 pounds, or 37.36 percent of the 37,508,792 allowable pounds were landed in the southern sector. Harvesters who do not have a regional delivery requirement, including crew quota and catcher processor quota, landed another 2,840,875 pounds, or 29.89 percent of their allowable 9,503,196 pounds., she said.

While the fishery officially begins Oct. 15, most crabbers wait until mid-January to begin dropping pots.

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