National Fisherman


Kodiak's waterfront is bedecked with hundreds of "7-bys," the big, heavy crab pots, as boats stack their gear for major fisheries in the Bering Sea.

The Bristol Bay red king crab season is set to open Oct. 15, with a harvest of 8.6 million pounds, similar to last year. A reopened Tanner crab fishery will produce a 3 million-pound catch; the numbers for Bering Sea snow crab, Alaska's largest crab fishery, will be out next week.

The fisheries are set to open on schedule, said Heather Fitch, regional manager for ADF&G at Dutch Harbor. However, due to the federal government shutdown, the season could be stalled because crabbers won't know how much they can catch. The Bering Sea crab fisheries operate under a catch share system and federal workers who compute the shares are off the job.

Nearly 500 eligible vessels and companies have applied for 2013/2014 crab quotas, said market expert John Sackton. Furthermore, the crab fishery depends on a share-matching system between harvesters and processors. That can't be determined until the exact amounts of quota for each shareholder are determined by federal regulators.

The agency lacks the manpower to process applications and issue federal fishing licenses, said Alaska region director Jim Balsiger at the North Pacific council meeting this week in Anchorage. Balsiger said he was appealing to the federal Commerce Department to make personnel available.

Read the full story at the Anchorage Daily News>>

Inside the Industry

The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:

The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.

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Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.

Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.

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