2015/2016 SOUTHEAST GOLDEN KING CRAB FISHERY ANNOUNCEMENT

Petersburg . . . The 2015/2016 commercial golden king crab fishery in Southeast Alaska will open concurrently with the commercial Tanner crab fishery at 12:00 noon on Wednesday, February 17, 2016.

Guideline Harvest Levels

The Registration Area A guideline harvest level (GHL) for this season is 155,000 pounds. Management area specific GHLs set within the guideline harvest ranges (GHRs) are as follows:

Management Area                                       GHR                    2015/2016 GHL
Northern                                                0 – 175,000                  15,000
Icy Strait                                                0 – 75,000                    12,000
North Stephens Passage                     0 – 25,000                    8,000
East Central                                           0 – 300,000                 30,000
Mid-Chatham Strait                            0 – 150,000                  40,000
Lower Chatham                                    0 – 50,000                    28,000
Strait Southern                                     0 – 25,000                    22,000
Registration Area A total                    0 – 800,000                155,000

Each management area will be managed inseason and closed by emergency order once the individual management area GHLs are reached. In addition, the department intends to evaluate fishery performance inseason, and in areas where recent fishery performance indicates a stock health concern, may close a management area prior to reaching the GHL. The first inseason analyses of harvest ticket/logbook and port sampling data will be conducted in March. Any fishery area closures subsequent to that analysis will be announced in March, and although the department will provide as much advance warning as possible, closures may occur on short notice.

Maps showing the management area boundaries for golden king crab are included for reference only in this news release. Please refer to 5 AAC 34.107 for descriptions of the golden king crab fishing areas in Registration Area A in the “2015-2017 King and Tanner Crab Commercial Fishing Regulations” booklet found in area offices. Regulations can also be viewed online at:

As announced in a previous news release, the registration deadline for the 2015/2016 commercial golden king crab fishery was January 19, 2016. All commercial fishermen registering for the 2015/2016 commercial golden king crab fishery after January 19, 2016 are required to pay a $45 late fee [A.S. 16.05.065]. Simultaneous, though separate, registrations are allowed for golden king and Tanner crab (see Simultaneous Registration Regulations section in this news release). Processors are reminded that registration for tenders is required.

Commercial fishermen may register and obtain logbook packets, buoy tags, and other fishery information at Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Wrangell, and Haines area offices. The king crab vessel registration year [5 AAC 34.020(b)] is June 28 – June 27. Permit holders wishing to fish in open golden king crab management areas after June 27, 2016, will need to re-register with the department.

Buoy tag placement requirements are in regulation [5 AAC 34.051(b)]. Buoy tags are mandatory for all commercial golden king crab gear and are available in any area office in Southeast Alaska for $1.25 each. Replacement tags are available at all area offices upon receipt of a completed tag replacement affidavit. All missing tag numbers must be provided on the affidavit form before replacements can be issued. The completed affidavit form must be signed by the permit holder and a crewmember. All purchased buoy tags are non-refundable.

Simultaneous Registration Regulations

While the Tanner crab fishery is open, a golden king crab fisherman who is also registered for the Tanner fishery may use a maximum of 80 pots [5 AAC 34.125(b)(3)]. Twenty-four hours after the Tanner season closes regionwide in Registration Area A [5 AAC 35.020(k)], or after a fisherman, or his agent, has unregistered from the Tanner crab fishery, fishermen already registered for golden king crab may purchase an additional 20 tags in order to fish the maximum of 100 pots for golden king crab.

Regulations regarding permit holders with simultaneous registration in golden king crab and Tanner crab fisheries [5 AAC 34.109; 5 AAC 35.106] state that before fishing for golden king crab in a portion of Registration Area A that is closed to Tanner crab fishing, a vessel must have all Tanner crab removed from the vessel, must unregister to fish for Tanner crab by signature of the vessel owner, agent, or permit holder and a department representative, and that once a permit has been unregistered for Tanner crab, Tanner crab may not be retained or sold. Until a permit holder simultaneously registered for the golden king crab and Tanner crab fisheries unloads all Tanner crab, and unregisters to fish for Tanner crab, he or she may not have gear in fishing condition in a portion of Registration Area A that is closed to Tanner crab fishing. Likewise, vessels registered only for golden king crab that desire to fish for Tanner crab during the non-core period must remove all gear from the closed Tanner crab area before registering for Tanner crab.

At the January 2009 Alaska Board of Fisheries (BOF) meeting on Southeast Shellfish, the board adopted a proposal to allow retention of golden king crab caught in pots configured for the Tanner crab fishery if simultaneously registered for both fisheries and if both fisheries are open. Golden king crab taken in Tanner crab pots as described in 5 AAC 35.125(f) may be retained if the CFEC permit holder fishing for Tanner crab is also registered to fish for golden king crab and both crab fisheries are open at the same time [5 AAC 34.125(a)]. Also, permit holders with simultaneous registration in golden king crab and Tanner fisheries are required to comply with inseason reporting requirements in place for the golden king crab fishery, even if the permit holder begins by targeting Tanner crab.

Logbooks and Reporting Requirements

Logbooks and inseason reporting are mandatory in the golden king crab fishery [5 AAC 34.130 & 5 AAC 34.143]. Logbook packets include instructions for filling out the logbooks, logbook sheets, envelopes for

their delivery, maps showing ADF&G statistical areas, and all news releases available at the time the packet is obtained. Logbooks should be sealed in one of the envelopes provided in the registration packets and attached to the fish ticket submitted to the processor upon delivery. The number of crabs, pounds, and number of pot lifts by statistical area must be recorded on fish tickets and logbooks. Each king crab fisherman shall indicate on the fish ticket at the time of landing any king crab harvested which are not purchased by the processor, or which have been discarded at sea [5 AAC 34.075(a)]. Each buyer of king crab shall indicate on the fish ticket any king crab which was not purchased from a load [5 AAC 34.075(b)]. If golden king and Tanner crab are landed on the same trip, separate logbooks must be completed for each species.

For all golden king crab management areas, inseason reporting will be required daily. The first mandatory call-in for the 2015/2016 season is Thursday, February 18, 2016. Reporting requirements may be relaxed, by emergency order, inseason. A dedicated phone line, (907) 465-2000, has been established for the reporting of crab logbook data. Fishermen are also requested to phone in when they change management areas or when discontinuing fishing for the season. For permit holders who wish to text or e-mail their logbook data, please contact Joe Stratman in Petersburg at (907) 772-5238 (office) or (907) 518-0755 (cell), or Adam Messmer in Douglas at (907) 465-4853 (office) or (907) 723-3342 (cell).

Retention of Parasitized Golden King Crab

Golden king crabs that are infected with the barnacle parasite, Briarosaccus callosus, may be retained regardless of size or sex [5 AAC 34.112]. Either a scar or the externa of the parasite located under the abdominal flap indicates the presence of this parasite. The scar is a dark brown or black spot about 1⁄4 inch in diameter on the soft tissue of the abdominal flap. The externa varies in size, is shaped like a hot dog, and is usually attached to the soft tissue of the abdominal flap. It is possible to have more than one scar or externa on the same crab. The parasite’s externa must be removed before the crab is placed into the vessel holding tank.

Closed Areas

The seven golden king crab management areas do not encompass all waters of Registration Area A. Please refer to 5 AAC 34.107 for descriptions of the golden king crab management areas in Registration Area A and 5 AAC 34.150(2)(b) for descriptions of closed waters within Registration Area A. Although waters of District 14 in Glacier Bay north of the latitude of Point Gustavus are listed in 5 AAC 34.107(b) as part of the Icy Strait golden king crab area, federal regulation prohibits commercial fishing for king crabs in this area. For specific information on commercial fishing in waters of Glacier Bay National Park contact the National Park Service at (907) 697-2230.

Retention of Blue King Crab

Qualifying permit holders with current registration in the golden king crab and Tanner crab fisheries are permitted to retain blue king crab in the 2015/2016 golden king crab and Tanner crab fisheries [5 AAC 34.110 (e)] from areas described as blue king crab fishing areas [5 AAC 34.108]. However, the legal size for blue king crab was changed at the 2015 Southeast Shellfish BOF meeting from 6 1⁄2 inches to 7 inches [5 AAC 34.120]. Also, the waters of District 14 in Glacier Bay north of the latitude of Point Gustavus are described as a blue king crab fishing area [5 AAC 34.108(c)], but as stated above commercial king crab fishing in Glacier Bay is currently prohibited by federal regulation.

Lost Pots

Reporting of lost pots or pots left in a closed area in fishing condition should be directed to the Alaska Wildlife Troopers (AWT) offices in Juneau (465-4000) or Ketchikan (225-5118).

Fishermen with gear in more than one fishery area are asked to make every effort to separate crab in their hold so crab can be sampled by department port sampling staff. Zip ties to mark crab are available to permit holders to assist with dockside sampling efforts. For more information on obtaining zip ties and separating crab by fishery area please contact Anne Reynolds at (907) 465-2444.

Fishermen are also reminded that weather delay criteria for Tanner and king crab fisheries have been recently adopted in regulation. Any delay to the start of the 2015/2016 Tanner and golden king crab fisheries due to weather will be announced 24 hours before the start of the fisheries [5 AAC 35.110(b) and 34.110(f)].

A person or vessel that operates pots or ring nets for commercial, subsistence, personal use, or sport purposes during the 30 days immediately before the scheduled opening date of the commercial fishery may not participate in that king crab fishery [5 AAC 34.128(a)]. This prohibition does not apply to the operation of commercial shrimp or Dungeness crab pots [5 AAC 34.128 (b)]. Fishermen are reminded to review gear storage requirements and other pertinent regulations in the Southeast Alaska king and Tanner crab regulations handout.

Fishermen are reminded to account for any groundfish taken for bait prior to or during the golden king crab fishery. Groundfish harvested for bait should be marked as disposition code 92, landed catch, on the crab fish ticket for the trip on which the bait was taken. Sablefish, halibut, lingcod, shortspine thornyhead, shortraker, rougheye, and yelloweye rockfish may not be retained for bait.

The Emergency Orders corresponding with this announcement are EO 1C0216 and EO 1C0316.

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