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Alaska Department of Fish and Game

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Tanner Crab (Chionoecetes bairdi and C. opilio)

Tanner crab are harvested and used by many fishing sectors, but the directed commercial fishery is the most significant. The Alaska Tanner crab fishery began in 1961 and has grown into fisheries of major commercial importance. Record domestic harvests amounted to over 123 million pounds in 1978 for Tanner crabs (C. bairdi) and 332 million pounds in 1991 for snow crabs (C. opilio).

Crabs are taken by vessels ranging from small inshore vessels to new "super crabbers" in the Bering Sea. Fishing gear consists primarily of pots similar to those used for king crab. Most pots are baited with chopped herring and then soaked from one to three days. Historically, Tanner crabs were harvested by both domestic and foreign fleets, with the Japanese and Soviet fleets concentrating their efforts in the Bering Sea. By the early 1970s, allocations for foreign vessels were being sharply reduced. The Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976, which established the 200-mile Economic Exclusion Zone, limited foreign fishing in United States waters.

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