Alaska officials have taken the decision to cancel fall Bristol Bay red king crab harvest, citing concerns for the decreasing populations of the king and snow crabs.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) issued a statement noting that there would be some inconvenient to businesses, but also expressed that it was necessary to cancel on this occasion.
“As ADF&G’s closure of the crab fishery has a significant impact on harvesters, industry and communities, ADF&G must balance this impact with the need for long-term preservation and sustainability of crack stocks,” the agency said in a statement.
They added, “Given the state of the population, the management of Bering Sea snow crabs must now focus on conservation and reconstruction.”
The decision has drawn backlash from crab fishermen across Alaska.
“Many members of the Alaskan fleet will go bankrupt, including second and third generation crawlers whose families are steeped in the culture of this industry,” Jamie Goen from The Alaskan Bering Sea Crabbers trade association said in a statement on Tuesday. “Long-time crew members who have worked on these decks for decades will be out of work.
“I am struggling for words. This is so unbelievable that this is happening,” Goen added.
Snow crab populations have plummeted in the aftermath of a 2019 Bering Sea warming that caused disruption to the broader marine ecosystem. The snow crab harvest in 2021, which came in at 5.6 million pounds was the smallest in more than 40 years.
Survey craftsmen said their findings showed that mature male snow crabs fell by 22 percent when compared to last year’s figures, while the number of mature female snow crabs decreased by 33 percent.
The survey’s results also showed that the number of young male and female snow crabs has shot up since last year and has risen by 138 percent and 3,902 percent, respectively. This does offer some indication that the species could recover over time.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: FLIPBOARD.COM
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