Decision made in the interest of preserving Norton Sound red king crab stock recovery
In the interest of preserving the Norton Sound red king crab stock, NSEDC has made the difficult decision to not purchase crab from the 2023 winter commercial fishery.
NSEDC has made this decision in the interest of the long-term health of the Norton Sound red king crab stock. While the stock appears to be rebounding, NSEDC believes a cautious approach to commercial harvests continues to be necessary to preserve the recovery. As the current mature crab stock is vital for reproduction, a conservative harvest approach over the next few years is warranted to balance the needs of the commercial fishery with those of the crab population’s long-term health. This harvest strategy may allow the commercial fishery to benefit from the harvestable surplus for a longer period of time. Additionally, the winter fishery has the potential to produce additional negative impacts to the stock in the form of increased handling mortality and pot loss.
In conjunction with the decision to not purchase crab from the winter fishery, NSEDC and Norton Sound Seafood Products (NSSP) will not be selling commercial crabbing gear or commercial quantities of bait.
NSEDC will be making a determination on how to approach the 2023 summer commercial fishery in the coming weeks and will inform fishers of our plans well in advance of the season. We are cautiously optimistic that a level of commercial harvest could again be achieved while preserving crab for the coming years, both for reproduction and future harvest. Any commercial harvest of this current cohort should be conservatively managed and spread out to achieve longer-term benefits for both the crab stock and the subsistence and commercial users who depend upon it.