Petersburg Pilot -

Tanner Crab fishery sees its largest harvest in over a decade Prices, however, drop

 


This year’s Tanner crab season saw its largest harvest in 15 years while prices dropped.

Preliminary estimates show the 2014-15 Tanner fishery in Registration Area A (Southeast Alaska) is 1.42 million pounds with 84 permit holders, according to Alaska Department of Fish and Game Lead Crab Biologist Joe Stratman.

“This harvest exceeded last season’s harvest by 170,000 pounds, and is the largest Tanner harvest in 15 seasons,” he said. “You have to go back to the 1999-2000 season to find a larger harvest of Tanner crab in Southeast Alaska.”

District 11, which includes locations such as Seymour Canal, Holkham Bay and the backside of Douglas Island, saw the largest harvest “by far” with 750,000 pounds harvested by 43 permits.

District 15, the Lynn Canal, saw a harvest of 190,000 pounds by nine permit holders.

Prices dropped at a total harvest value of $2.75 million, with an average price of $1.93 per pound. Stratman said the typical dock price was around $2.25 per pound.

“In comparison, last season’s harvest was valued at $3.17 million, with an average price of $2.53 per pound,” he said, “so while harvest was up from last season, ex-vessel value and price were down from the previous season.”

The $2.75 million value includes not only quality crab, but “bitter crab, softshell crab and tar-belly crab, which have little or no value,” he added.

The overall percentage of bitter crab - a parasite that gives Tanner crabs a bitter taste - landed was 14 percent; double that of the previous season’s 7 percent.

District 15 had the worst bitter crab problem, Stratman noted, where 43 percent (up from 30 percent last year) of the harvest was graded as bitter. Other districts with higher bitter percentages were District 11, with 13 percent bitter, and District 8, with 9 percent.

The best areas to avoid bitter crab were found in Districts 6, 7, 9, 13 and 14, which all had less than 1 percent bitter crab.

The season began on Feb. 13, and lasted six days in core areas and 11 days in non-core areas.

The golden king crab fishery, which also started on Feb. 13, is ongoing. It has a region-wide guideline harvest level of 336,000 pounds, Stratman said, divided into seven management areas.

The fishery closed at noon on Tuesday, March 17, in the East Central and Northern areas “well short of their respective guideline harvest levels in response to continued declines in indices of relative abundance and recruitment of golden king crab,” he added.

Through Monday, March 16, 33,000 pounds had been landed by 29 permits with a total ex-vessel value of $390,000, and an average price of $11.86 per pound.

 

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