Norton Sound red king crab CDQ fishery closes
The Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game has flipped the sign on the Norton Sound red king crab CDQ fishery to “closed” effective at 5 p.m. March 22. At that time, all gear must be out of the water or have bait containers removed and doors secured open. All pot gear has to be out of the sea ice effective at midnight March 27. The CDQ fishery opened Feb. 28.
ADF&G took the action to close the fishery March 20, in consultation with Norton Sound Economic Development Corp., because resident fishers had harvested 71 percent of the Community Development Quota red king crab allocation by March 19. Including deliveries made through March 19, 42 registered permit holders had harvested over 26,400 pounds of red king crab against the CDQ allocation of 37,260 pounds out of Norton Sound.
On the 20th, less than 11,000 of the allocation remained. A release from Jim Menard, area manager, noted that deliveries to the Norton Sound Seafood Products processing plant had increased over the last few days, with seven registered crabbers yet to make a delivery. Menard had gone to Fairbanks to attend the Board of Fish meeting and was not available for comment.
Crabbers needed to have their deliveries to Norton Sound Seafood Products processing facility at Belmont Point by 9 p.m. March 22. However NSEDC, owner of the quota, has authority to implement management measures to ensure that the harvest does not exceed the CDQ allocation, which means that NSEDC could restrict the fishing before the ADF&G deadline on March 22.
Fisheries managers set the Guideline Harvest Level for the resource for each cycle. Eight percent goes to the Norton Sound open access through the ice winter fishery; 7.5 percent goes to the red king crab Community Development Quota allocation; the remaining 84.5 percent is available for the summer commercial fishery allocation.
The ADF&G posting told crabbers that if they were unable to get to their gear because of unsafe conditions, they would not receive penalties for having their pots baited past the closure date, but crabbers had to put back into the waters any crab harvested after 5 p.m. March 22.
NSEDC policy sets how the commercial CDQ crab fishery works. The fishery is open to any fisherman 18 years or older, who qualifies as a Norton Sound resident under NSEDC’s residency rules, who can obtain a CDQ gear permit card, and who signs the 2017 NSEDC Norton Sound Red King Crab Fisherman’s Agreement and NSEDC residency verification forms. Crabbers who wanted to participate in the CDQ crab fishery had to register their CDQ cards with ADF&G, carry the permit and be present whenever pot gear operated.
The winter open access red king crab fishery came to a close March 4. The guideline Harvest level set for the Norton Sound through the ice commercial fishery was 39,744 pounds. Fifty-seven persons registered to participate; 35 commercial permit holders delivered at least once to the processing plant at Belmont Point.
The record price of $7.75 per pound held to the end of the open access winter commercial season. Final numbers for the CDQ fishery will be available for next week.