Tag Archives: Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Prince William Sound harvest tops one million fish

Commercial harvests of red salmon reached 378,000 fish in the Copper River drift district through June 20, as the run and harvest continued to be below forecast, while Chinook catches were above expected. The commercial harvest of sockeyes is still trending consistently below forecast, noted Jeremy Botz, who manages the state’s gillnet salmon fishery from the Cordova office of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The good news is that both reds and kings appear to be in great condition and larger than average, Botz said. Sockeyes are weighing 5.6 pounds to 5.7 pounds, and the kings on average have weighed in at about 21 pounds, compared to about 18 pounds in recent years. “They are larger than we have seen in quite a while, by close to three pounds, he said. click here to read the story 13:07

State of the kings

For the first time in years, king salmon are showing signs of making a stronger return to the vast wilderness surrounding Alaska’s urban heartland. While Panhandle runs continue to struggle, kings to the north appear to be coming back in reasonable numbers. No records are being broken, but there are enough fish the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has liberalized fishing in two of the state’s most popular roadside king salmon drainages – the Kenai River south of Anchorage and tributaries to the Copper River east of the state’s largest city. A near disaster had been forecast on the latter river, a big, muddy, glacial stream draining 26,500 square miles of Alaska near the Canadian border. A return of only 29,000 fish was expected, and with the spawning goal set at 24,000, the state imposed a host of restrictions on the fishery before it even began. Sport fishing was closed. Subsistence fishermen were restricted to a seasonal limit of only two Chinook, the more common Lower 48 name for kings. And commercial fishermen faced major reductions in fishing time and closures of areas that have in the past produced the biggest king catches. click here to read the story 09:37

So many kings

With the commercial catch of king salmon off the mouth of the Copper River steadily growing, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has gone all in on the idea that a preseason forecast that suggested a return of only 29,000 of the big fish was in error. The agency on Friday announced it will lift a restriction that limited subsistence fishermen on the Copper to two fish, and open sport fisheries along the river it had ordered closed before the season even began. The action comes amid mounting public pressure for the agency to see the annual catch of kings, or Chinook as they called elsewhere, is shared among subsistence, commercial, sport and personal-use fishermen. The subsistence fishermen, who are supposed to have a legal priority on harvest, started the season limited to two fish, and told they would get only one-fifth slice of an allowable harvest of only 5,000 kings. That whole plan has now been ditched. click here to read the story 10:37

Kodiak Sockeye Season Opens Early on June 1

Kodiak’s commercial sockeye salmon season gets off to a bang tomorrow (today). Already this week has far exceeded expectations, with Monday setting an all time record for sockeye past the Karluk weir. On Monday, a whopping 46,000 fish hit the river, prompting fish and game biologists to reconsider the numbers and open the season early on June 1. Alaska Department of Fish and Game Kodiak Commercial Salmon Area Biologist James Jackson explains that island-wide commercial opening is based on activity at specific rivers. “In June around Kodiak the majority of the commercial salmon fisheries are managed based on the local sockeye runs. And the four big sockey runs are Karluk, Ayakulik (eye-ah-cue-lick) Upper Station and Frazier.” The biggest of those is usually the Karluk River. “And Karluk early run has come in like a bang this year,,, click here to read the story 08:23

Good bad news?

The Copper River commercial salmon fishery ended Tuesday almost 2,000 Chinook over the 5,000-salmon threshold the Alaska Department of Fish and Game set as the acceptable harvest for 2017,  and the fishing season has only begun. Steve Moffitt was at the time reported to be hiking somewhere along the Appalachian Trail on the East Coast of North America some 4,500 miles southeast of the tiny port, community of Cordova on the West Coast not far from the mouth of the Copper. Who the hell is Steve Moffitt? He’s the commercial fisheries biologist who penned a bombshell forecast calling for the return of but 29,000 king salmon, as Alaskans most often call Chinook, to the Copper River this year. He then promptly retired, leaving behind what has now become Alaska’s most watched fishery for a number of reasons: click here to read the story 19:50

King fishery closed

Fisheries managers in Southcentral Alaska might still be wrestling with what to do about a weak return of king salmon to the Copper River, but their counterparts in Southeast Alaska have acted to protect kings returning to the Taku and Stikine Rivers. Officials with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game today announced commercial troll fisheries which catch most of the Southeast kings, or Chinook as they are otherwise called will close at midnight Sunday. Preseason forecasts for wild Chinook salmon production in Southeast Alaska are at an all-time low, a press release said.  Typically, in the Taku and Stikine rivers, nearly half the run has entered the river by the end of the third week of May; however, record low numbers of Chinook salmon are being seen in-river this year.  The Taku and Stikine are transboundary rivers, and Fish and Game runs research programs with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada to assess in-season run strength. Click here to read the story 13:13

Golden fish

Update: This story was updated on May 21, 2017 to include new prices. In economic crisis, there is often opportunity. Commercial fishermen in Cordova, Alaska are at the moment worrying mightily about what the rest of their fishing season will bring given the prediction of a record weak-return of Copper River king season. But what the ocean gods have brought so far are sky-high prices for a higher than expected catch of a thought-to-be struggling run of fish. The first, 12-hour opening of the season was expected to result in the harvest of only a few hundred kings given a prediction of a weak return and fishing-area closures the Alaska Department of Fish and Game ordered to protect areas where kings have usually been caught in the past. Despite those closures, however, fishermen caught almost 1,900 of the big fish, a catch bigger than in last year’s opener. Most fishermen in the Cordova fleet of 500 gillnetters were reported to be getting dock prices of $10.30 per pound for king, but some were doing much better. click here to read the story 18:20

Fisheries board says no to emergency petition on Copper River fishery

An emergency petition that would have increased closures and restrictions on the Copper River commercial salmon fishery that gets underway this week was defeated May 17 during a special meeting of the Alaska Board of Fisheries in Anchorage. The vote was 3-4. The Fairbanks Fish and Game Advisory Committee had submitted the petition asking the board to require the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to publish an additional emergency order on commercial fishery management actions to be taken to assure the sustainable escapement goal for king salmon for the Copper River in 2017. ADF&G Commissioner Sam Cotten responded to the petition earlier, saying that he concluded that the situation did not warrant such action. click here to read the story 08:53

Copper River disaster

This is a developing story – No one seems to have any idea what sort of astronomical price a rare and iconic Copper River king salmon from Alaska might demand when the commercial fishing season opens in about a week – if there are any fish to be sold. The Alaska Board of Fisheries is facing an emergency petition to ban the sale of the big fish in the name of conservation. Alaska subsistence fishermen who are supposed to have a fishing priority but have already been told they will be restricted to a limit of two kings each for the entire season are talking about the possibility of a lawsuit if the state allows the commercial king fishery to open. And even if the start of the fishery proceeds as scheduled on May 18, the opening day catch is expected to be no more than a few hundred fish, if that, given that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has already ordered the closure of fishing areas where most kings are caught. click here to read the article. 09:45

2017 sockeye forecast weak for Cook Inlet

Upper Cook Inlet’s commercial salmon fishermen are predicted to have another slow season, if the forecast proves accurate. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s 2017 commercial salmon fishery outlook predicts a total run of about 4 million fish to all the stream systems in Upper Cook Inlet, which includes the Kenai, Kasilof and Susitna rivers as well as a number of smaller streams. Commercial fishermen are projected to harvest about 1.7 million of that, the lowest projected harvest in the last 15 years. It’s largely the Kenai River not living up to the recent 10-year average. The river is projected to see a return of 2.2 million sockeye, about 39 percent below the recent 10-year average of 3.6 million fish. By contrast, the Susitna River is projected to see about 366,000 sockeye return, about 5 percent below the average; the Kasilof River is expected to see about 825,000 sockeye, about 16 percent below the recent average, according to the forecast. Better than 2016 – Improving prices – Board of Fisheries changes – click here to read the story 08:29

Weak Meats: Researchers identify widespread parasite in Alaska scallops

A lot of Alaska’s scallops are sick, and scientists are trying to figure out why. Alaska’s scallop fishery is a small one — in recent years, four boats, with just one operating in Kamishak Bay in Lower Cook Inlet. The rest operate out of Kodiak. Most scallop beds straddle the three-nautical mile line between state and federal management areas and is jointly managed by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The permit system is attached to vessels rather than to individuals, restricting the entire fishery to nine vessels total under the federal system. But in recent years, the fishermen have had to start tossing a lot back. When they pull them up, a lot show signs of degraded meat with brown spots and a stringy texture and will occasionally slip off the shells at the processor. The condition, called “weak meats,” results in a lot of waste in the scallop fishery, as processors aren’t interested in buying scallops with weak meats. click here to read the story 09:46

Fish Politics – Victim of the state

Once revered for world-leading skills at managing wild salmon, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game today finds itself under attack as incompetent as the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council begins court-ordered consideration of salmon management in the federal waters of Cook Inlet. The most powerful commercial fishing organization in the 49th state’s most populated region says its members have been robbed of $33 million over the past six years thanks to state mismanagement of salmon, and they want the federal government to make things right. The United Cook Inlet Drift Association forced the management issue into federal court hoping to get its nets around more salmon. It now accuses Fish and Game’s Commercial Fisheries Division of grossly mismanaging runs bound for the Kenai, Kasilof and Susitna rivers for years.,,The state rebuilt them to record levels, but along the way the politics of fish changed. click here to continue this Big Read 10:55

‘Deadliest Catch’ Faces Its Own Extinction – The crabs are missing in the Bering Sea, and the series may soon have nothing to film.

If Discovery’s “Deadliest Catch” is in trouble, it’s climate change – not ratings – that may hasten the show’s demise. Over the last year, temperatures rose about four degrees in the Bering Sea, which is 50 times the global average. As filming began for the 13th season of “Deadliest Catch,” which premieres Tuesday night, the show’s fishermen had to contend with a serious problem: With warming waters, the crabs have moved elsewhere. “The first thing that you need in order to film a show about crab fishing are the crabs,” said executive producer R. Decker Watson, Jr. “If the crabs don’t show up, then we’re all out of business.” The Alaska Department of Fish and Game sets an annual quota system on crab fishing, depending on a survey they take in the spring and summer. This past year, they found that half the crab was missing, and quotas were cut across the board.“We didn’t know if we were even going to be on the water long enough to film the 20 hours of ‘Deadliest Catch’ for the season,” Watson said. “It became a much more difficult fight for each skipper… It worries me for the future of the fishermen, they’re really having to fight to save their way of life. But it makes for great television.” Indeed, the fishermen’s struggle became a major part of the story this season. click here to read the story 20:03

Pendulum ticks toward commercial fishermen as Cook Inlet meeting wraps

The Board of Fisheries pendulum may have swung, but it’s still attached to the same clockwork. The triennial Upper Cook Inlet Board of Fisheries meeting ended March 8, leaving behind a big fish goal for the Kenai River late king salmon run, potential expanded hours for the Cook Inlet drift and setnet fleets, and a brand new early run king salmon plan on the Kenai River. Though the tone was mild compared to that of 2014, the same grudges against the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the board, and among rival user groups are bubbling away. After three years of buildup following an emotional 2014 meeting, the 2017 marathon was sparsely attended and largely civil, focusing mainly on what ADFG Commercial Fisheries Division Operations Manager Forrest Bowers called “minor changes.” “This early run king plan, that’s probably the biggest change outside the large fish goal,” Bowers said. “With the late run sockeye plan, there was a long discussion but at the end of the day it didn’t really do much. The late run king plan, I mean, again, long discussion, relaxed the August restriction a bit, but it’s fundamentally the same.”  continue reading the article here 13:25

Alaska Crab fishery faces identity crisis, while Fishermen have a tough time finding snow crab

Fishermen are having the toughest time in the past five years finding snow crab, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, in Unalaska. The fleet of 60 crab boats had caught 16. 6 million pounds, for 74 percent of the quota in the Bering Sea, ADF&G biologist Ethan Nichols in Unalaska said Monday. But based on the number of crab in an average pot, the catch has plummeted from a peak of 237 to 116 in the most recent weekly tally, he said. The average weight is 1.3 pounds per individual snow crab, he said. continue reading the story hereCrab fishery faces identity crisis.  Is it a bairdi Tanner or is it an opilio Tanner snow crab? Or is it something in between, a hybrid? The Bering Sea commercial crab fishery is facing an issue fundamental to identity, and in what fishery which crustaceans can legally appear. In this issue, it’s up to the Alaska Board of Fisheries. Crabbers and their allies in the Pribilof Islands say a hybrid should be considered part of the catch of whatever the fishermen are targeting, whether Tanner bairdi or Tanner opilio. While both have Tanner in their names, the bairdi are commonly known as Tanners, while the typically smaller opilio are called snow crab. continue reading the story here 12:10

Cook Inlet Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting to kick off with new faces, old grudges

The Alaska Board of Fisheries has a full plate for its triennial Upper Cook Inlet finfish meeting beginning Feb. 23 and running through March 3 in Anchorage. The board will look quite different with three new members since the last meeting and so does the fishery after three years of restriction, tight markets, lawsuits, and accusations of disregarding the best science that revolve around the board decisions at its last Upper Cook Inlet meeting in 2014. Chinook, or king, salmon stocks on the Kenai River and around the state started to plummet in the late 2000s, and in 2014, the Board of Fisheries approved paired restrictions directing the Alaska Department of Fish and Game had to take certain actions when the Kenai king fishery was restricted, including limiting commercial fishing time. Sport representatives generally thought it fair to share the burden of conservation, while commercial fishermen said it hit them harder than the sportfishermen. This year, nearly 200 proposals from commercial, sport and subsistence fishermen will try to overhaul entire fishery management plans, revise escapement goals, expand or contract fishing areas and openings hours, add or remove new gear types and in general try to open up more fishing opportunity for each respective group. Continue reading the article here 08:54

Seafood groups pick up $5.9M tab for ADF&G hatchery salmon research

Processors and seven hatcheries have agreed to pony up millions to keep an Alaska Department of Fish and Game research project going. Pacific Seafood Processors Association and Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association Inc., committed $5.9 million to support the Wild/Hatchery Salmon Management Tools capital project. The project is intended to fuel management decisions around Alaska’s 29 salmon hatcheries, as well as secure a more marketable reputation for Alaska hatchery stocks. The program was originally started in 2012 as a collaboration between ADFG, the PSPA and private nonprofit hatcheries. Continue reading the story here 10:18

Fish war on?

After the smallest Kenai River dipnet catch in eight years, there are hints that the little people of Alaska’s urban core might at last be arriving at the realization that they are the only ones who can protect their interest in Alaska salmon for dinner. A message populating on social media over the weekend was calling dipnetters to a “meeting at Cabela’s, Anchorage sunday evening from 6 to 7 concerning dipnetting and BOF. Pass it on.” BOF is the acronym for the Board of Fisheries for the state of Alaska. It is the entity that sets seasons and catch limits for commercial, sport and personal-use fisheries around the state. It will later this month take up the issue of management of Cook Inlet salmon, an always contentious matter in which the interests of average Alaskan  fishermen and women have historically proven secondary. To a large degree, fishery managers with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game say, this is simply unavoidable. Commercial fishermen working offshore in the Inlet get the first crack at returning salmon, and the commercial fishery is the big dog in the management scheme. Salmon managers use it to regulate the numbers of salmon getting into streams all around the region with the intent being to maximize the catch while still meeting spawning goals. Continue reading the article here 09:06

Southeast’s first crab fisheries of the year set to open

Alaska has dozens of crab species—about seven that are commercial harvested. So what’s Tanner crab like? To help answer that question, I asked Joe Stratman, the lead crab biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Southeast. He says Tanners are related to the popular snow crab. “What I always liken it to is when they’re at the buffet line in Los Vegas they often see snow crab which is a kind of Chionoecetes opilio. Our Tanner crab in Southeast looks very similar to that. It’s a little larger,” Stratman said. Recent markets seem to like Tanner crab too. Last year’s harvest in Southeast was valued at nearly $3 million dollars. 74 permit holders participated in the fishery. They brought in a total of just over 1.3 million pounds. The price per pound averaged $2.23 which is thirty cents higher than the year before. Read the story here 11:54

Fishermen forced to share spawning pounds in spawn-on-kelp herring fishery

The spawn-on-kelp fishery allows fishermen to catch herring near Craig and Klawock and put them into floating net pens called pounds. Blades of kelp are also put in there for the herring to spawn on. The eggs are then sold to Asian markets. Scott Walker is the Area Management Biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Ketchikan. He’s been helping manage the spawn-on-kelp fishery since it began in 1992. “We have been seeing throughout Southeast Alaska right now a downturn of herring stocks,” Walker said. In the past the fishermen were restricted by the number of blades of kelp they were allowed to use in their pounds. Now, fishermen will also be forced to share a pen with at least five other permit holders. The effort will mean less pounds being used, which is what the state is after, says Walker. Last year 46 structures were fished, the year before it was 76. This year it’s limited to 20 pens. Audio report, read the story here 16:26

Southeast Alaska winter troll season slow

Commercial troll fishing for king salmon in Southeast Alaska this winter is not like it has been the last few years. The troll fleet catch and the number of boats out fishing are both well down from last year and also below the five and ten-year averages. By late January, the catch had neared 8,000 Chinook, with more than half of those kings landed in the waters around Sitka Sound. Eight thousand is just one quarter of what the catch was at this time last year.“I would say that the past three years have been phenomenal for the troll fishery so seeing a decrease now doesn’t necessarily mean that the fishery’s terrible, it just means that we’re going back to lower averages,” said Rhea Ehresmann is assistant troll management biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Read the story here 19:07

Strong harvests, more oversight marked 2016 groundfish fisheries

Last year was a good year overall for groundfish fisheries in the region. With a few standout harvests and favorable proposals with the Board of Fisheries, managers are feeling optimistic heading into the new year. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game oversees several groundfish fisheries within the Cook Inlet Management Area, which extends outside of Kachemak Bay to the north Gulf coast. “These fisheries include Pacific cod, sablefish, a directed pelagic shelf rockfish fishery, lingcod, and a small commissioner’s permit Pollock fishery,” said Jan Rumble, Fish and Game area groundfish management biologist. Pacific cod stood out in 2016 as it was open all year long for pot and jig gear in either a parallel or state waters fishery, Rumble said. Read the story here 11:19

Board of Fish finalizes recommendations on fish habitat permitting

The state Board of Fisheries, the body that sets regulations on state-overseen fisheries, voted to send a letter to the Legislature at its Kodiak meeting, held Jan. 10–Jan. 13 recommending the state review Title 16 of the Alaska Statute, which addresses how the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game should issue permits in streams determined to be fish habitat. Any activity that may use, divert, obstruct or change the natural flow of a body of water determined to be fish habitat requires a permit, granted by the commissioner of Fish and Game. The current statute says the commissioner shall grant a permit unless an activity is deemed “insufficient for the proper protection of fish and game.” The request was born out of a non-regulatory proposal submitted to the board for its 2016/2017 cycle by a group of 13 citizens of various user groups in fisheries. Read the story here 09:46

Study shows Cook Inlet sockeye harvested in Kodiak

New genetic data indicates that many of the sockeye harvested by Kodiak’s commercial fishery may originate from Cook Inlet streams. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game published a study in December compiling three years of research into the genetics of sockeye salmon harvested by commercial fishermen in the Kodiak Management Area. In 2014, local Kodiak-origin stocks of sockeye salmon contributed 88 percent of the harvest, but in 2015 and 2016, they only contributed 58 percent of the harvest, according to the study. Almost all the rest of the harvest was Cook Inlet-origin stocks. In 2014, 8 percent of the harvest turned out to be from Cook Inlet. In 2015, that portion was 37 percent, and in 2016 it was 30 percent, according to the study. Chignik-origin sockeye salmon comprised another 10 percent, according to the study.  Read the rest here 08:56

Ringing in new round of ‘fish wars’ as ADFG manages budget

In the face of yet another round of budget cuts, Alaska’s largest private employer, the seafood industry, will have entirely new management schemes to sort out and live under in 2017 alongside status quo projections for harvest in key fisheries. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game will take another budget cutback responding to the state’s multi-billion dollar deficit that has yet to be patched. Gov. Bill Walker released a proposed fiscal year 2018 budget on Dec. 15. Among other cuts, Walker proposes a budget of $28.9 million for ADFG. This is a 36 percent reduction from the fiscal year 2015. ADFG will have to find ways to deal with budget cuts to monitor key fisheries stocks, including the iconic king salmon that has fallen in abundance beginning in the late 2000s. Further, commercial fisheries management programs will suffer,,, Fish wars renewed – As usual, much of Alaska’s year will center around salmon. Among the biggest items for Alaska’s state fisheries will be the two-week 2017 Upper Cook Inlet meeting of the Alaska Board of Fisheries. Read the rest of the article here 16:25

Southeast Alaska Dungeness fall harvest was lower than expected

The fall harvest was approximately 403,000 pounds. That’s about 150,000 pounds less than last year. Kellii Wood is a Crab Biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. She says they’ve seen harvests like this before but it’s been a while. “It’s definitely down from previous years,” Wood says. “We have been lower but I believe it was in the 90s.” Wood says the harvest is far below the five year fall average of 732,000 pounds. About one-fifth of the year’s harvest comes in the fall. This year was just a little below that. Wood says the recent average is a bit skewed when you consider 2014. It was an unusually good year seeing the third highest fall harvest on record since the 1960s. That fall fishermen harvested about a million pounds. Listen to the audio report here 13:55

2017 Bristol Bay sockeye forecast in line with recent average

bristolbaysockeyesBristol Bay can look forward to a regular season in 2017 after two years of hard work, if the forecast is to be believed. Alaska’s largest sockeye run has blown past projections the last two years, but next year the Alaska Department of Fish and Game predicts an average harvest. “A total of 41.47 million sockeye salmon (range 31.20–51.73 million) are expected to return to Bristol Bay in 2017,” according to an ADFG report released Nov. 15. “This is virtually identical to the most recent 10-year average of Bristol Bay total runs (41.39) and 27 percent greater than the long-term mean of 32.76 million.” For commercial fishermen, this means next year’s harvest will also be average, with a commercial harvest of 29 million. “A Bristol Bay harvest of this size is 2 percent lower than the most recent 10-year harvest which has ranged from 15.43 million to 37.53 million, and 34 percent greater than the long-term harvest average of 20.52 million fish (1963 to present),” the report states. Read the rest here 15:14

Sockeye forecast adds concern to Board of Fisheries process

adfg-logoUpper Cook Inlet salmon fishery stakeholders should be concerned with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s 2017 sockeye forecast for many reasons — not the least of which is that the predicted low harvest will inject even more economic and allocation concerns into the debate when the Board of Fisheries meets in February. This past week, the Alaska Journal of Commerce reported that Fish and Game is forecasting a return of 4 million sockeye salmon, with an expected commercial harvest of 1.7 million — about 1.2 million fish less than the 20-year average harvest. Based on 2016 prices, a harvest of 1.7 million sockeye would be worth $10.4 million to Upper Cook Inlet commercial fishermen, which is roughly half the value of this year’s harvest of 2.4 million fish. For the fish board, which sets fishery regulations, seeing a low sockeye forecast ahead of an Upper Cook Inlet meeting is akin to the economy taking a dive right before a presidential election. Each side will have its own theory as to who or what has caused the decline — and that certainly will color the debate at the Board of Fisheries meeting. Read the rest here 09:39

Record high prices expected for red king crab fleet

red-king-crab-2432px-608x400The Bristol Bay red king crab season is moving at a fast pace, with most of the quota already harvested. While state regulators slashed quotas, a crab industry official says fishermen are seeing plenty of all species, and are expecting record high prices. On Tuesday, the fleet had landed 7.5 million pounds, for 89 percent of the red king crab quota, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Unalaska. Only 18 boats were still registered, down from the peak of 62 vessels. The season opened on Oct. 15. While the red king crab prices are expected at record highs, that’s the one bright spot for the major crab fisheries in the Bering Sea. Tanner crab has been canceled because of conservation concerns. The snow crab quota was nearly cut in half, compared to last year. Now, more fishermen than ever are expected to try to fill their pots with another species, Pacific cod, according to Krista Milani, a fisheries biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service, in Unalaska. While she’ll know more next week, she reports a “very unusual” amount of fishing boats planning to go directly into Pacific cod from red king crab. Read the story here 09:57

Bristol Bay Red King Crab Fishery Starts Strong Despite Low Stock Assessment

The red king crab fishery is off to a booming start in Bristol Bay, despite predictions of a down season. The fleet has caught two-thirds of its quota in just a dozen days, and managers say fishermen are unloading big, beautiful crab at the dock. Gordon Christiansen is a commercial fisherman with more than 40 years of experience in Bering Sea. This season, he said the crab were especially voracious eaters, quick to fill the pots dropped by his crew on the F/V Aleutian Mariner. “From the time we set pots in the water, we were done in 60 hours,” said Christiansen. “It was amazing, tremendous fishing. We’d like to go out again and do it again tomorrow.” Having already harvested their 120,000-pound allocation, his seven-vessel fleet is finished for the season. The average crab from their haul weighed just over seven pounds — a half-pound larger than normal, according to Christiansen. Read the story here 09:07