A sport and subsistence tanner crab fishery returned to Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet for the first time in four years last fall. The season kicked off in October and will run through February.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game Sport Fish Management Biologist Carol Kerkvliet said about 1,100 permits have been issued so far.
“Since the fishery has been closed, we did expect fairly high participation because it provides a different opportunity for people in the winter months when there's not a lot going on,” Kerkvliet said.
The fishery closed down in 2013 due to surveys showing low abundance of adult male tanner crab, but the state Board of Fish approved reopening the fishery and reducing the size limit by an inch. One pot is allowed per vessel and the bag limit is three per day.
Kerkvliet said anecdotally, anglers are seeing varied success.
“I’ve heard reports that, it seems to some people, that the crab are moving around,” she explained. “So, they’ll set their pot one day, get their bag limit. The next day, they won’t.”
Fish and Game doesn’t track the in-season catch. Kerkvliet said fishermen are required to report their total catch by March 31 and the numbers will be analyzed in late spring.
”We’ll look at what the harvest is from this October through end of February, and then also we’ll look at the numbers of legal size male crab in the troll surveys,” she said. “All of that will paint a picture for us on the direction to go for the next winter season.”
The season will come to a close on February 28.