The Norton Sound red king crab fishery is currently the largest single species fishery in Norton Sound. As purchasers of Norton Sound red king crab, Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation (NSEDC) is highly involved in the mechanisms, research and survey work essential for sustainably managing the area crab fishery. The fishery not only supports commercial crabbers, but also the many Norton Sound residents who partake in subsistence fishing.
Crab Tagging Studies
NSEDC believes that management of our crab fishery requires an understanding of the migration patterns of Norton Sound red king crab. To that end, NSEDC has been involved in a joint crab tagging study, funded by the North Pacific Research Board. This joint project with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) seeks to more fully tell the story of where and when Norton Sound red king crab move throughout the year.
Currently, the Norton Sound red king crab fishery is managed as one stock; if this study shows that the assumption of a single stock is false, management changes would be necessary to maintain a healthy population. Crab are tagged in the northern Norton Sound (Nome to Elim) and in the eastern Norton Sound (Cape Denbigh to Unalakleet). During the commercial fishery, Norton Sound Fisheries Research and Development (NSFR&D) and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) work closely with commercial crab fishermen, who turn in recovered tags.
NSEDC has supported and supplemented the crab trawl surveys performed every three years by ADF&G. These surveys are the most important tool used to set the harvest guidelines for red king crab.