The department had issues with vessels not making call-ins in the Golden King Crab fishery this season and warned that if this continues next season, they will seek help from enforcement.
The main focus of the meeting were the proposals for the 2018 Board of Fish meeting. The following proposals were submitted by ADF&G.
-would eliminate the 14 day prohibition on setting sport Tanner gear after the closure of the commercial Tanner season.
-Lower the pot limit from 100 to 80. The department felt this would help control effort in the GKC fishery and align the fishery with the Tanner pot limit. Industry felt that this would increase the amount crab were handled and reduce bottom time for small crab to filter out of the pots. They also preferred raising the Tanner pot limit to 100 to align the fisheries.
-Lower the Guideline Harvest Ranges (GHR) to the pre-2009 levels.
(b) In Registration Area A, the guideline harvest ranges for the taking of golden king crab in the following areas are:
(1) Northern Area: 0 – 145,000 [175,000] pounds;
(2) Icy Strait Area: 0 – 55,000 [75,000] pounds;
(3) North Stephens Passage Area: 0 – 25,000 pounds;
(4) East Central Area: 0 – 225,000 [300,000] pounds;
(5) Mid-Chatham Strait Area: 0 – 150,000 pounds;
(6) Lower Chatham Strait Area: 0 – 50,000 pounds;
(7) Southern Area: 0 – 25,000 pounds;
The department feels these lower ranges are closer to the maximum sustainable yield (FSY) for the areas. Industry felt that this would restrict management’s ability when the stocks re-bound. They also noted that GHR’s were raised too late to capture the peak of the last up-cylce in the GKC biomass. The industry asked for the FSY data and the department agreed to provide it after the meeting. We reviewed the past harvest data and there were several years with harvest levels above the proposed decreases. The industry felt that GHR’s should not change now that the GHL is changed annually, and not on the three-year cycle.
-Make the GKC season 9 months long with a closure date of November 15th. The department submitted this to mirror the Federal Aleutian GKC season that has a 3 month stand down to review data and issue the TAC for the next season. The industry noted that in the past, the Southeast season has remained open until December/January and that some areas of the state remain open year around.
Dungeness, Tanner, and King crab
-The last ADF&G proposal would issue tags for pot fisheries to the permit holder and not the vessel, except for the case where two permit holders fish from the same vessel (ie separate Tanner permit holder and GKC permit holder). In this case the tags will still be issued to the vessel.
Earlier in the year PVOA and SEAFA held a meeting with GKC permit holder to alter the GKC management plan. Industry was looking for more stability in the management plan and assurance that every area would open for at least one set of tides each season. There is no funding for surveys, and without a fishery there would be no data available. There are also no management triggers to determine when an area would be opened again after a closure.
The Task Force reviewed the proposal submitted by PVOA and SEAFA concerning the GKC management plan. The department will provide feedback on it and the proposal will be covered again at the next Task Force meeting in the fall. Department and industry are working together hoping to come to an agreement on alterations to the proposals that both sides could support at BOF.
We also covered proposals from individuals that would open additional exploratory areas for tanner and king crab and create a closure exemption for Tanner/King crab similar to the opening delay for weather in the Tanner crab fishery.
There was a new association announced at the end of the meeting, the Shellfish Preservation Alliance,
The purposes for which this corporation is formed is to advocate for the preservation of Shellfish resources important to subsistence, personal use, sport and commercial users by creating an ecological balance between the shellfish resource, humans and predators. Membership forms are here.
The industry also took nominations for a new chair for the King/Tanner Task Force. Ballots will be mailed to all permit holders.
The meeting started with a review of the latest tanner season which was the second largest harvest in 16 years after the 2014/2015 season. 1.3 million pounds were caught by 4,880 registered pots of which 84% came from the core area and 16% from the non-core.
Next we saw a study on bitter and healthy tanner crab collected during the Stephens Passage survey last year. 27 bitter crab and 46 healthy crab were placed in a tank at the NOAA lab in Juneau to determine their survival rate over 35 weeks. They concluded that bitter crab are threes times more likely to die within a year than clean crab.
To have a Red King crab fishery, the minimum GHL threshold is 200,000 legal crab. The department said they need two data points for each bay and currently have one for Excursion Inlet, two for Pybus Bay, and two for Seymour Canal. Port Fredrick, Holkam Bay, and Rodman Bay were eliminated as survey areas in 2015 due to budget cuts. This leaves Peril Straits, Gambier Bay, and Lynn Sisters in need of data points. The department said they don’t plan on a mark/recapture in the Juneau Area since the survey seems to work well there.
The budget hasn’t been settled yet for the State or for the Department of Fish and Game. There is money in the current budget for some RKC mark/recapture for this year. The majority of the cost for this is fuel and the budget is about $50,000.
We reviewed the Golden King crab fishery. Many of the areas have low participation and are confidential, we had a discussion on ways to make this data available for comparison. Due to budget cuts, next year may be the last year of the observer program. Information on pre-recruits can only come from the observers and the department feels this is crucial information for management. If fishermen were asked to tie tunnels shut to obtain the information for the department, there could be enforcement issues. Many of the fishermen present felt that the observer information is very important and necessary. We talked about ways to keep the program, including using left over RKC survey money for it.
It was noted by the department and the industry that the GKC fishery needs to open to provide the department with data for the fishery since there will not be funding for surveys. The department wants a snapshot of what is available, but is cautious of leaving the fishery open too long on a depressed stock. The industry asked that they leave it open long enough that they can switch over from tanners to king crab, in order to get a more complete analysis of what is available and the catch rates. There were several questions on the cost and amount of days observer trips last, the department will get back
The industry felt that the daily call-ins for king crab were not necessary, especially when simultaneously registered for tanners and not targeting king crab. The department said the GHL is so low, in the past that amount of crab has been caught in a day and that the mandatory call ins were essential. The industry noted that if this happened, the stocks are recovering and the GHL was set too low.
The task force will meet again sometime this winter before the fishery.
January 29, 2016
The 2016 Task Force meeting was open to everyone. The meeting looked at the mark recapture efforts for Red King crab in 2015 and learned that there will not be funding for this in the future. If organizations want to look to paying for these surveys in the future it is an option.
The department agreed to open all areas for Golden King crab in 2016. Fishermen should be ready for a short notice closure of East Central and the Northern Area, and daily call-ins. The department will start looking at Port Sampling and Logbooks around March 1st and make closure decisions from there. The news release should be out at the end of this week.
Fishermen delivering mixed loads of Golden King crab can help the department obtain better data. Currently, when a vessel comes in with a mixed load, the port sample is thrown out. If you choose to zip tie one leg of all crab caught in one area the department could differentiate the crab caught between the two areas and use the data for management decisions.
Tanner crab surveys show a slightly higher biomass than last year. Depending on the number of pots registered to fish, there may be one or two additional days for core areas.
The next King and Tanner task force was requested to be held in the end of May/beginning of June.
September 19, 2012
King and Tanner Task Force Permit Holders:
Non – Petersburg Seats:
John Barry, Stan Savland, Jason Kohlhase, Rick Daugherty, Steve Thomassen
Gary Slaven, Yancey Nilsen, Craig Evens, Ryan Littleton
Randy Lantiegne–Icicle Seafoods, John Baird–Sitka Sound Seafoods
Also on the board are the Executive Directors of SEAFA (Kathy Hansen) & PVOA (Brian Lynch) as well as a Board of Fish Liaison (John Jensen) which is a non-voting position
Thanks to our RKC survey participants:
Stan Savland – F/V Chickamin
John Barry – F/V Pillar Bay
Ryan Littleton – F/V Angjenl
Jeremy Jensen – F/V Harvester
Thanks to our processors for donating bait:
Icicle Seafoods, Alaska Glacier Seafoods, Taku Fisheries