Thursday October 19, 2023

Wrangell Sentinel

A year after state officials imposed unprecedented shutdowns on crab fishing in the Bering Sea, the snow crab population is in even worse shape than it was last year, when the Alaska Department of Fish and Game canceled the 2022-23 harvest.

Survey results were presented Oct. 4 in Anchorage to the advisory panel of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, which is charged by the federal government with managing fisheries in the region. The presentation was by Mike Litzow, a National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries biologist who is one of the leaders of the council’s team that plans for crab fisheries.

“We’ve never seen the abundance this low. We’ve never seen a decline as great as what we saw from 2018 to 2021. That was completely unprecedented. And we just continue to see those small animals dying out of the population without being replaced, so I think it’s fair to say we’re in an unprecedented situation for snow crab,” Litzow told the advisory panel. He directs NOAA Fisheries’ Kodiak laboratory and shellfish assessment program.

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