Southeast Alaska’s commercial Dungeness crab fleet will have a shortened summer season this year.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game last week announced the reduction in crabbing time. The season length is based on the projected total catch from the first week of crabbing, which started up June 15th.
Adam Messmer, Fish and Game’s assistant shellfish manager for Southeast, said the effort and catch in the first week of the season was down from prior years. “There was 110 permits that delivered in the first week,” Messmer said. “The last couple years it’s been about 120-125 permits that have landed in the first week. The first week’s catch was the lowest since 1994. So it’s not ridiculously low but it’s low enough to bring it down.”
Fish and Game projects the total season catch will be 2.17 million pounds – that’s below a threshold set in regulation for a full two-month season. As a result, the summer crabbing season will be shortened by one week, the first time the fishery has been closed early. Fish and Game will make a decision later this year on the length of the fall season, which typically is open in October and November.
The region’s Dungeness catch has been over five million pounds as recently as five years ago, but it’s been dropping since then, along with a drop in the number of crabbers landing crab. Last year the fleet landed just under 2.4 million pounds.
The summer crabbing season closes just before midnight Thursday, August 8th.