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2024 Tanner crab fishery finishes in a week in spite of poor weather at times

(Photo by Angela Denning/KFSK)
Tanner crabs in a tote. (Photo by Angela Denning/KFSK)

The Southeast section of Kodiak’s Tanner crab fishery will close at 6 p.m. Monday evening, marking the end of this year’s commercial fishing season.

Nearly 3.5 million pounds of Tanner crabs have been caught in the Kodiak District and along the Alaska Peninsula about a week after the 2024 fishery opened on Jan. 15 at noon. That is down fromlast year’s harvest of over 7 million pounds for the Kodiak, Chignik and South Peninsula Districts.

The Chignik District was closed for the 2024 season, as the threshold abundance to provide for a minimum GHL of 200,000 mature male crab was not reached.

The Alaska Department of Fish & Game’s Nat Nichols is the area manager for commercial groundfish and shellfish fisheries in the Kodiak area. He said this year’s Tanner crab season lasted just a little bit longer than average.

“Weather was certainly a factor this year, more so than last year,” Nichols said. “We definitely saw a decrease in effort on a few days due to weather. So I would say it’s fair to say that it [the weather] extended the season, although not by a lot but maybe by a day or so,” he explained.

Last year’s Tanner crab season lasted about a week as well,although the crab fleet started two weeks late after standing down in protest of low prices from local processors.

According to Nichols, 135 boats registered to fish for Tanner crabs in the Kodiak District this season, although not every boat ended up participating. 110 signed up to fish the eastside, 20 for the southeast and five for the southwest.

Fishers used technology such as satellite internet, InReach devices and WhatsApp messaging platforms to stay in contact with Fish and Game on a daily basis while crabbing.

“It takes some effort, we have a number of staff that come in and take reports,” Nichols said. “But yeah lots of texting! We’ve had excellent reporting from the fleet. This year we had several days where we had 100%, so we were talking to every single boat.”

The final harvest amount and number of boats who participated will be released by the department in the coming days.

Crab Boat. Photo Terry Haines
Crab Boat in Kodiak. Photo from Terry Haines, KMXT (2022).