Welch: Where have all the Tanner crab gone?

The popular January Tanner crab fishery has been called off for the third year running throughout the Westward Region (Kodiak, Chignik and the South Peninsula), leaving fishermen and managers wondering where all the crab has gone.

State managers for several years have been tracking a huge plug of crab that appeared poised to enter the 2016 Tanner fishery, but based on this summer’s surveys, the crab have failed to materialize.

“In 2013 saw a very large cohort of juveniles in the survey estimated at over 200 million crab, which was one of the largest we’ve had going back to the early 1980s,” said Mark Stichert, area manager at the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game in Kodiak. “We saw those crab again in 2014 and they were a year older and a year larger, however, there was a fairly significant decline to about 113 million crab. And then in 2015, unfortunately, that number dropped again significantly to just over 40 million total crab in the survey around the Kodiak area.”

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About the author

Jessica Hathaway

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 13 years, serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s Communications Committee and is a National Fisheries Conservation Center board member.

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