Winter in Unalaska by Sam Zmolek
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  • The majority of Alaska’s Bristol Bay commercial red king crab have been caught for the season. This year’s quota was rather low, coming in at about 2.1 million pounds for the entire fleet. To compare, that’s less than half the total allowable catch, or TAC, for the 2018/2019 season. Ethan Nichols is the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s area management biologist for groundfish and shellfish in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands region. He said even just a couple million pounds was a welcome amount for harvesters during historic lows in the state’s commercial crab industry.
  • The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has reopened the Bristol Bay red king crab fishery, following a two-year closure.ADF&G announced Friday morning that the lucrative crab fishery will open Oct. 15, following analysis of survey data by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.
  • The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is set to decide Friday whether or not to reopen the Bristol Bay red king crab fishery, which has been closed since 2021.Their decision will be based on recommendations from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, which is meeting through Oct. 11 in Anchorage.
  • A federal government shutdown likely won’t affect the start of a Bristol Bay red king crab season, according to fisheries officials.The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will meet in early October to discuss opening the crab fishery, which has been closed since 2021. The federal government shutdown, which could start Sunday, wouldn’t stop the regional council from meeting, but it could affect whether or not the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration can distribute IFQ or Individual Fishing Quota, following the Council’s recommendation.
  • The Center for Biological Diversity intends to sue the federal government over a new marine highway in Alaska. The environmental group sent a notice letter on Sept. 21 to the U.S. Maritime Administration, which designated the new highway. The letter contends that the federal agency is violating the Endangered Species Act for failing to consider possible harm to endangered wildlife along Alaska’s coast.
  • By 9 am, over one hundred boats are anchored in the Naknek River entrance, some after a night of fishing the Naknek-Kvichak. Ivan Basargin of the fishing vessel Top Notch is one of them. He’s here to join the demonstration against this year’s low price. Basargin has fished in Bristol Bay since the late 1980s and builds fishing boats in the offseason. Standing in the wheelhouse of a boat he built, he says this year’s low-price hits hard.
  • Western Alaska chum versus Eastern Aleutian sockeye: that’s how many people are framing an Alaska Senate bill that aims to temporarily close Area M, a fishery off the Alaska Peninsula and eastern Aleutian Islands.
  • Aleutian Airways will start regular flights from Anchorage to King Salmon this summer.The new regional airline announced Wednesday that it will offer two roundtrip flights per day starting in June.
  • The recent closure of the Bering Sea snow crab and Bristol Bay red king crab fisheries has some of Western Alaska’s coastal towns taking a hard look at their futures, and one small island is bracing for a huge hit. The Pribilof Island of St. Paul runs on snow crab — also known as opilio crab. The community’s Trident Seafoods is one of the largest crab processing plants in the world. So when fisheries management officials announced the species “overfished” and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game shut down snow crab for the first time in the fishery’s history in October, City Manager Phillip Zavadil knew the community needed to act fast. “We're trying to get creative and have people understand that this is going to happen more and more, and that we need to address it,” Zavadil said. “We can do something now, instead of waiting for next year, when we don't have any funding or we can't provide services.”
  • Bering Sea snow crab will close for the first time in the fishery’s history. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced Monday afternoon that snow crab — also known as opilio crab — and Bristol Bay red king crab would not open for the upcoming fall and winter fishing seasons. Miranda Westphal, an area management biologist for ADF&G, said stocks are just too low to justify opening either fishery. “All of our crab stocks in the Bering Sea have seen declines the last few years,” Westphal said. “[For] red king crab, we've been seeing declines for a little over a decade now. We just see very little recruitment coming into the population — not a lot of crab maturing into a fishable size. And so we're just seeing more of that this year.”