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Dungeness crab season opens strong


Carey Case / Wild Iris Photography

The F/V Outlook gets an early morning start, loaded with crab pots and heading out on Monday, the opening day of Dungeness season.

Dungeness crab season is now open, and fishermen are flocking to the sea earlier.

This time last year, there were 151 permits registered, Alaska Department of Fish and Game Petersburg Shellfish Biologist Joe Stratman said. The 2014-15 season ended with 192 permit holders.

This year, there are already 193 permits registered, he added.

"We have an increase in effort this year," Stratman said.

And the results of last year's season may be a contributor, he added.

The 2014-15 season was a good one as over 5 million pounds were harvested - above the 3.78 million pound 10-year average - with a total value of $15.1 million. The average price per pound was $2.99.

Preliminary information on this year's commercial Dungeness crab fishery will be released later this month.

The season opened in Registration Area A (Southeastern Alaska) on Monday.

Registration Area D (Yakutat) will remain closed for the 2015-16 season as it continues to recover, according to ADF&G. It's been closed since 2000 after being designated as collapsed and recovering by the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

There has been some concern regarding the largest toxic algae bloom the West Coast has seen in more than a decade, according to Associated Press reports, prompting the closure of some shellfish harvests in California, Oregon and Washington.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the bloom stretches from Central California into Washington and could possibly go as far north as Alaska.

NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service spokeswoman Julie Speegle said ADF&G, along with assistance from those such as Southeast Alaska Tribal Toxins, is monitoring the situation locally.


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