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Alaska Governor requests federal fishery disaster for Bristol Bay red king crab and Bering Sea snow crab fisheries

Christian Fernsby |
On October 21, Governor Mike Dunleavy wrote to Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Gina Raimondo, requesting she declares a fishery disaster determination for the 2022/23 Bristol Bay red king crab and Bering Sea snow crab fisheries.

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Additionally, Governor Dunleavy requested that the secretary expedites a disaster determination for the 2021/22 Bristol Bay red king crab fishery.

“Available information indicates the decline for both crab stocks resulted from natural causes linked to warming ocean temperatures. We listened to the stakeholders and their need for economic relief in the crab industry and Alaska’s affected communities. We are working swiftly to ensure the Secretary of Commerce considers our request,” said Governor Dunleavy.

“I have requested that Secretary Raimondo declares a fishery disaster for both Bristol Bay and the Bering Sea and expedites the decision for the Bristol Bay red king crab fishery.”

“The decision to close snow and red king crab fishing this year was difficult understanding the impact the closure would have on fishermen and communities,” said Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang of the Alaska Department of Fish & Game.

“However, given the lack of meaningful recruitment, my decision was to err on the side on conservation and sustainability. We must now focus on providing disaster relief to fishermen and communities and on developing rebuilding plans for these stocks that involve the fishing industry.”

The collapse of the Bering Sea snow crab stock was first reported in 2021 and a rebuilding plan is currently under development. Bering Sea snow crab harvest was significantly reduced for the 2021/22 season and the 2022/23 Bering Sea snow crab fishery season is closed for the first time ever due to further reductions in estimated snow crab abundance.

Exvessel losses from the 2021/22 and 2022/23 Bering Sea snow crab seasons are estimated to be $202.7 million dollars. In sum, the losses in exvessel value across the Bristol Bay red king crab and Bering Sea snow crab fisheries for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons is estimated to be $287.7 million dollars.

Total losses for crab dependent harvesters, processors, communities, and support businesses likely far exceed this loss in exvessel value.


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