BLUE KING CRAB

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

As blue king crab fisheries continue to struggle in the Bering Sea, another stock has been added to the nation's "overfished" list. 

Every year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports to Congress on the status of U.S. fisheries. The report highlights which stocks are in "overfishing" and "overfished" status, as well as which stocks have been rebuilt. 

Red King Crab Quota Down 35 Percent

Oct 15, 2018
Alaska Department of Fish and Game

While crab fishing is underway in the Bering Sea, the quota for red king crab is down significantly.

At 4.3 million pounds, the total allowable catch is 35 percent lower than last season's TAC, which was already the lowest since 1996.

Biologists expected the annual trawl survey to show a decline in the red crab population, but the drop was even greater than anticipated.

Berett Wilber/KUCB

 

Courtesy of Jared Weems

In the Pribilof Islands, no one's gotten an accurate count of blue king crab since the population crashed hard in the 1980s.

This summer, a marine biologist is trying to change that, with the species’ first in-depth study in more than 30 years.

His ultimate goal: Determine if blue crab can make a comeback — or if it’s gone for good.

It's a foggy day on St. Paul Island, and Jared Weems  is itching for the weather to clear up. He wants to get out on the water and back to work.

Celeste Leroux/Alaska Sea Grant

 

The last commercial harvest of Pribilof Island blue king crab was in 1999. Extremely low population numbers have kept that fishery closed.

“They’re almost like unicorns in the trawl survey now,” said Lauren Divine, co-director of St. Paul’s Environmental Conservation Office. “There are very, very, very few being found. When you find one it’s kind of unreal. It’s kind of surreal. ”