Governor requests fishery disaster determination for snow, red king crab
JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - Gov. Mike Dunleavy has requested that the United States Department of Commerce expedite a disaster declaration for the 2022-2023 Bristol Bay red king crab and Bering Sea snow crab fisheries.
Dunleavy asked via a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo for the declaration in accordance with Section 312(a) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and Section 308(b) of the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act. Dunleavy also asked Raimondo to expedite a disaster determination for the 2021-2022 Bristol Bay red king crab fishery season.
“The Bristol Bay red king crab and Bering Sea snow crab fisheries constitute the primary crab fisheries of the Bering Sea. Results of the 2021 and 2022 National Marine Fisheries Service Bering Sea bottom trawl survey showed continued low abundance of Bristol Bay red king crab and sudden and unexpected declines in Bering Sea snow crab abundance across all sizes of crab,” Dunleavy wrote.
Dunleavy explained that available information shows abundance reductions for both crab fisheries because natural causes are linked to warming ocean temperatures.
Bristol Bay red king crab fishery was closed for the first time since 1995 last season. Dunleavy writes that the fishery is closed again this year due to the continued low numbers of mature female red king crab.
“Estimated exvessel losses from the back-to-back closures of the Bristol Bay red king crab fishery is nearly $85 million dollars. The collapse of the Bering Sea snow crab stock was first reported in 2021 and a rebuilding plan is currently under development,” the letter states.
The letter says that losses from the the last two Bering Sea snow crab seasons are estimated to be over $202 million.
“In sum, the losses in exvessel value across the Bristol Bay red king crab and Bering Sea snow crab fisheries for the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 seasons is estimated to be $287.7 million dollars,” Dunleavy wrote.
Dunleavy writes that the total losses for crab-dependent harvesters, communities, support businesses, and processors will likely far surpass this loss in value. He says the crab fisheries meet the criteria for a fishery disaster determination.
Dunleavy asks for an expedited disaster determination because total losses are 100 percent below the average of the five years before. Losses will directly impact all parties connected to the fisheries.
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