Area Management Biologist
July 07, 2014
All noncommercial (subsistence, personal use, and sport) Tanner crab fisheries in Registration Area H will remain closed for the 2014–2015 season. This comprises waters of Cook Inlet (including Kachemak Bay and Kamishak Bay) and the North Gulf Coast and Resurrection Bay. The Kachemak Bay 2013 survey results of legal male Tanner crab were well below that which is needed to open the fishery according to the 5AAC 35.408 Registration Area H Tanner Crab Harvest Strategy. The fishery has been closed in Kachemak Bay since 2011 and in all areas of Cook Inlet and the North Gulf Coast since the 2012–13 season.
From the 2013 survey in Kachemak Bay, the department estimated 38,053 legal male Tanner crab. This estimate of legal male Tanner crab abundance did not bring the three year average to above the required 100,000 legal male crab threshold to open the noncommercial fisheries. In order for this noncommercial fishery to open, the legal male Tanner crab estimate from the survey would have to be more than 242,000 crab; the estimate has not reached that level since 1995. The department will not be conducting a survey in 2014.
A survey was last conducted in Kamishak Bay in 2012 to estimate legal male Tanner crab abundance. No legal-sized Tanner crab were observed in that survey, resulting in the closure of noncommercial fisheries in the remaining areas of Registration Area H outside of Kachemak Bay (waters of Cook Inlet west of the line from Point Pogibshi to Anchor Point and the North Gulf Coast). With no new survey information in 2014, this fishery will remain closed.
At the 2014 Statewide King and Tanner Crab Board of Fisheries meeting, new regulations were passed that changed the opening date for the Kachemak Bay noncommercial Tanner crab fishery to September 1, which will take effect when the legal male population is healthy enough to open the season (Subsistence 5 AAC 02.325 (1), Sport 5 AAC 58.022 (a)(11), Personal Use 5AAC 77.516 (1)). In addition, changes were made to the Registration H Tanner Crab Harvest Strategy 5AAC 35.408 (d) to use a three-year average of legal male abundance instead of a five-year average from the Kachemak Bay and Kamishak Bay surveys to determine if threshold levels have been achieved.
For additional information, contact biologists Carol Kerkvliet or Jan Rumble in Homer.