Two Southeast Alaska commercial crab fisheries are set to open next month.

Seasons for Tanner crab and golden king crab are scheduled to open on Friday, February 13th at noon. The start of the opening can be delayed by bad weather like it was last year for two days.

Photo courtesy ADF&G

Photo courtesy ADF&G

The Tanner crab opening will be at least five days in the most popular fishing areas, and could be extended depending on the number of pots registered in the fishery. Other “non-core” areas of Southeast are open during that time along with another five days.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s most recent estimate of the Tanner crab biomass is at nearly 5.5 million pounds of mature male crab. That’s up almost a million and a half pounds from the estimate last year.

Last year the fleet caught over one and a quarter million pounds, the largest harvest in 13 years. With a dock price of $2.53 a pound, that was worth nearly three million dollars. 80 permit holders fishing pots or ring nets made landings last year with most of the catch coming from Icy Strait, Lynn Canal, Stephens Passage and Frederick Sound.

As for golden king crab, the fleet landed over 234,000 pounds last year, the lowest total since 1997.
Fish and Game reports that recent declines in catch rates have reached historic lows reminiscent of the fishery collapse during the 1990s. Some areas last year were closed to fishing before the fleet reached the Guideline Harvest Level because of low harvest rates and concern over stock status. Other areas did not see much crabbing.

30 permit holders fished golden king crab last year. Most of the catch came out of Frederick Sound and Stephens Passage, Lynn Canal and middle Chatham Strait areas. The golden king crab price has been as high as 12 dollars a pound at the docks in recent years.