CDFU pushes for golden king crab fishery

Cordova District Fishermen United was in Anchorage this week urging the Alaska Board of Fisheries to develop a harvest strategy to reintroduce a golden king crab fishery in the northern and western districts of Prince William Sound.

Proposals 244 by CDFU and 245 by harvesters Robert Smith and Warren Chappell had the support of the city of Cordova, which passed a resolution in February noting the increased economic benefit a commercial king crab fishery would have to the community. On Tuesday, March 10, however, both proposals failed in 1-6 votes during the statewide king and tanner crab meeting.

Passage of these proposals would have provided economic benefit for all those engaged in commercial fisheries in Cordova through further diversification of commercial fisheries into the winter and early spring seasons, the Cordova City Council resolution said.

Also before the fisheries board were proposals for Cook Inlet Tanner crab, Norton Sound king crab, and king and Tanner crab in the Alaska Peninsula, Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, plus several commercial, sport and subsistence salmon fishery proposals.

CDFU’s proposal 244 noted that the golden king crab fishery in area E has been closed for over 30 years and that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has not conducted a survey to assess stocks since 2006.  Meanwhile fishermen participating in the Prince William Sound Tanner crab fishery are reporting extremely high levels of king crab abundance, with over 80 crab in some pots, yet are unable to retain any under the current commissioner’s permit, CDFU said. “At $16 a pound to processors, it doesn’t take much of a sustainably managed harvest to make a big difference for local fishermen trying to diversify their income,” the proposal said.

Smith and Chappell’s proposal 245 also notes the absence of a commercial king crab fishery in Prince William Sound for over 30 years. They contend that ADF&G has failed in its obligation to follow its statewide Tanner and king crab management policy, resulting in severe economic distress to Cordova and other communities in Prince William Sound. ADF&G has never addressed the socio-economic impacts of its management decisions, nor has it demonstrated any legitimate biological constraints which would preclude enacting a fishery, they said.