Deadliest Catch Season 19 will continue despite the closure of both the Bristol Bay Red King Crab fishery and Bering Sea Snow crab fishery

Deadliest Catch Season 19 will continue despite Bristol Bay Red King Crab fishery and Bering Sea Snow crab fishery closures. Photo: NOAA

The recent announcement by the Alaskan Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) to close both the Red King Crab fishery and the Bering Sea Snow Crab fishery will not affect Deadliest Catch Season 19 according to reports.

In a statement provided to Deadline, Deadliest Catch Executive Producer, Arom Starr-Paul said this about Season 19 that will kick off in the spring of 2023, he said:

“Fans can anticipate another great season of Deadliest Catch where we will document our captains as they participate in other sustainable Bering Sea crab and pot fisheries, such as Golden King Crab, Bairdi and Cod.”

The closure of the Bristol Bay Red King Crab fishery for the 2022/23 season due to the estimated stock being below the ADF&G regulatory threshold for opening a fishery, coupled with the Bering Sea Snow Crab for the same reason, has thrown the future of crab fishing in Alaska into confusion as marine scientists battle to figure out whether the shift is permanent due to warming waters caused by global warming which is forcing the crab into colder waters further north.

In relation to the decline of Red King Crab and Snow Crab in 2022, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Monday 17 October 2022:

“NOAA Fisheries — in close coordination with federal and state partners—is responsible for fostering healthy, productive, and sustainable marine fisheries. Our management process is based on science and conducted according to a process outlined in the Magnuson-Stevens Act. All of our stock assessments are subject to a public, transparent, rigorous, peer-review process. 

Our best available science indicates that the crash of the Bering Sea snow crab stock leading to the fishery closure was related to the 2019 heat wave in the North Pacific. That heat wave as well as earlier heat waves have been attributed to climate change. 

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game and NOAA Fisheries work together to produce the Bristol Bay red king crab stock assessment in accordance with the co-management agreement outlined in the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Crab Fishery Management Plan.

The red king crab closure in Bristol Bay was related to a continued decline in that stock for many years. The cause of that decline is likely due to a combination of factors and related to continued warming and variability in ocean conditions in Alaska.

Climate change will continue to present challenges to our understanding of marine ecosystems in Alaska and elsewhere, but we have a robust management system that will allow us to adapt.” (Source)

The closures are a major blow to the crab industry in Alaska. NOAA stats shows that in the 2020 season 16,600 tonnes of snow crab were landed with a value of $107 million (€201m/£175m). In 2021, NOAA stats show 2,721 tonnes of red king crab was landed to a value of $73 million (€75m/£65m). (Source)

Some in the industry have claimed that the closure of both crab fisheries is too severe and should be reconsidered but as of the, there has been no word of a reconsideration, at least in the Red King Crab fishery as the traditonal opening date for the fishery (15 October) has now passed.

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Bristol Bay Red King Crab announcement 10/10/2022

2022/23 Bristol Bay Red King Crab Season Closed

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) have completed analysis of 2022 NMFS trawl survey results for Bristol Bay red king crab. The stock is estimated to be below the ADF&G regulatory threshold for opening a fishery. Therefore, Bristol Bay red king crab will remain closed for the 2022/23 season.

ADF&G appreciates and carefully considered all input from crab industry stakeholders prior to making this decision. Understanding crab fishery closures have substantial impacts on harvesters, industry, and communities, ADF&G must balance these impacts with the need for long-term conservation and sustainability of crab stocks. Management of Bristol Bay red king crab must now focus on conservation and rebuilding given the condition of the stock. Efforts to advance our science and understanding of crab population dynamics are underway. With crab industry input, ADF&G will continue to evaluate options for rebuilding, including potential for sustainably fishing during periods of low abundance. This will allow ADF&G to work on issues related to state and federal co-management, observer coverage, discard mortality, and fishery viability. (Source)

Bering Sea Snow Crab closure announcement 10/10/2022

2022/23 Bering Sea Snow Crab Season Closed

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) have completed analysis of 2022 NMFS trawl survey results for Bering Sea snow crab. The stock is estimated to be below the ADF&G regulatory threshold for opening a fishery. Therefore, Bering Sea snow crab will remain closed for the 2022/23 season.

ADF&G appreciates and carefully considered all input from crab industry stakeholders prior to making this decision. Understanding crab fishery closures have substantial impacts on harvesters, industry, and communities, ADF&G must balance these impacts with the need for long-term conservation and sustainability of crab stocks. Management of Bering Sea snow crab must now focus on conservation and rebuilding given the condition of the stock. Efforts to advance our science and understanding of crab population dynamics are underway. With crab industry input, ADF&G will continue to evaluate options for rebuilding, including potential for sustainably fishing during periods of low abundance. This will allow ADF&G to work on issues related to state and federal co-management, observer coverage, discard mortality, and fishery viability. (Source)

snow brab alaska cancelled

Image: Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers

 

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Deadliest Catch will continue despite Red King and Snow Crab closures

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