Board of fisheries has plenty on its plate

While Alaska Board of Fisheries meetings taking place in Anchorage for the next two weeks will suck up most of the oxygen in the headlines with the so-called “fish wars” in Upper Cook Inlet, there are other fish board meetings of note taking place soon.

The board will reunite in Anchorage March 20-24 to take up statewide king and Tanner crab fishery proposals, except for Southeast and Yakutat.

There are 38 proposals regarding king and Tanner crab issues submitted by the general public, fishing organizations, local Fish and Game Advisory Committees, and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Two of the proposals submitted by ADF&G deal with simplifying sport fishing regulations in Kodiak and the Alaska Peninsula designed to prevent commercial fishermen from prospecting, or going out prior to the season to find crab, and post-season to prevent retaining crab to sell to private citizens, two weeks before and after the season.

While it is directed at Tanner crab, the most recent commercial fishery in the two areas, king crab are also included.

ADF&G maintains there are already provisions in place that require fishermen to deliver their entire catch within as little as 24 hours and no more than 72 hours after the fishery closes.

They state that adoption of this proposal will help simplify sport fishing regulations and increase angling opportunity for king and Tanner crab.

A group of Alaska Peninsula fishermen have submitted a proposal to not only limit each boat fishing for Tanner crab to 20 pots, but also limit the fishery to 1,000 pots total.

The proposal says that it will give everyone a chance at the fishery and help smaller boats when weather is an issue.

It does not explain how to create a cut-off line when enough boats register to reach the 1,000 pot limit.

Some Bering Sea crabber’s associations and the City of St. Paul (Pribilof Islands) have submitted a proposal that would allow retention all legal opilio crab in the bairdi Tanner crab fishery west of 166 degrees, instead of 5 percent of the catch.

They argue that larger mesh size and escapement rings mean only very large opilio end up in the pots, crab that are at the end of their life cycle.

The full proposal book can be found at www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=fisheriesboard.main, and all meetings, including Upper Cook Inlet, can be heard online at the same site.

Cristy Fry can be reached at realist468@gmail.com.

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