KODIAK — Having completed its 2018 Tanner crab survey, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has announced that a Tanner crab fishery will take place in Kodiak in 2019, but not in Chignik or the South Peninsula District. This will mark the second time in six years that Kodiak has seen the fishery open.
ADF&G released its analysis of this year’s survey results from the Kodiak, Chignik and South Peninsula districts Monday. Commercial Tanner crab fisheries in these districts can only occur if the estimated abundance of mature male Tanner crab meets or exceeds abundance thresholds and minimum guideline harvest levels established in regulation.
There are six sections in the Kodiak District where commercial Tanner crab fishing can open, but a minimum of two sections must meet minimum GHLs for this to occur. Abundance levels must provide for a GHL of at least 100,000 pounds per section and at least 400,000 pounds total for all open sections in the district.
The 2018 Kodiak District survey results show that, collectively, the abundance observed in Eastside and Southeast sections will provide for a total GHL of 615,000 pounds. The 2019 GHLs will be 500,000 pounds in the Eastside Section and 115,000 pounds in the Southeast Section. The Northeast, Southwest, Westside, North Mainland, South Mainland and Semidi Island Overlap sections will remain closed for the 2019 commercial Tanner crab season.
These GHLs are up from this year, which was the first time the fishery has opened in Kodiak since 2013. In January, ADF&G set harvest limits of of 260,000 pounds in the Eastside Section and 140,000 pounds in the Southwest Section, which hit the minimum possible GHL required to open the fishery. The low GHL, combined with a large number of permits, resulted in a short opening period for the fishery.
According to ADF&G survey results, estimated abundance in the Chignik district failed to meet the minimum GHL of 200,000 pounds. Likewise, survey results showed that abundance in the South Peninsula District failed to meet the minimum GHL of 200,000 pounds. As such, commercial Tanner crab fisheries will not open in either district in 2019.
According to an ADF&G emergency order, fishing in the Eastside and Southeast sections will be monitored in-season and closures may occur before GHLs are fully harvested based on fishery performance and harvest distribution.
The Kodiak District commercial Tanner crab season will open at noon January 15, 2019, unless poor weather conditions result in delays. Due to the fact that this year’s GHL is less than 2 million pounds, the regulatory gear limit is 20 pots per vessel.
Additional information regarding buoy tags, registration, weather delays, in-season catch reporting and fishery management actions will be provided in subsequent news releases prior to the season opening.
For additional information on Tanner crab harvest strategies or survey results, contact ADF&G in Kodiak at 486-1840.