SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Crab Question
By Mike Moyer


June 04, 2010

To answer Chris Snyder's' question: Yes there are legitimate concerns over the handling of crab by the commercial fleet during the summer months and increased mortality occurs during this time. It is known that simply handling crab causes stress and increases mortality. Handling crab during the summer months during molting and mating increases that mortality even more. The numbers of crab handled by commercial boats would obviously be greater than sport fishers because they are using more pots and trying to target more crab.

Also restrictions were in place to prevent the overfishing of crab as a consequence of year round exploitation by the commercial fleet in year's past. Totes of rejected crab used to be dumped into the narrows and could be seen floating in front of the processing plants because of soft shell or minimal meat volume. It took a change in the seasons creating a winter only fishery to control this overfishing and years to bring back the stocks to sustainable levels.

All fisheries are subject to controls in order to maintain a sustained yield in Alaska and while I am a supporter of commercial fishing I am also an Alaskan and the regular guy always comes first in this state. We do not have huge crab grounds in the Ketchikan area to support continuous fishing of crab and the ensuing mortality from repeat handling by commercial crabbers. There are small pockets of crab in bays and inlets that will be fished out quickly when laced with commercial pots every day year in and year out.

Using the argument that Grandpa needs crab on his breakfast eggs to justify over harvesting this fishery is not valid. Rather if Grandpa would like some crab on his eggs he should ask his grandson to go set a pot and leave the commercial boats to fish during the winter months when the crab can handle the pressure better.

Mike Moyer
Ketchikan, AK

Received June 04, 2010 - Published June 04, 2010


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