The chance for Juneau residents to experience the thrill of capturing one of the many stars of Alaska’s “Most Deadliest Catch” fame — albeit the crusty denizens of the deep, not the ones in the wheel house or on deck — begins Friday.
According to an Alaska Department of Fish & Game Division of Commercial Fisheries news release, the summer personal use red and blue king crab season opens at noon Friday and continues through noon Wednesday.
“We have a new news release system this year and the personal use fishery, and the public are not as well acquainted with this as the commercial fleet,” Fishery Biologist Al Tingley said. “With the new implementation this year it is very difficult for people to find news releases. We just want to make sure they are aware of this fishery.”
According to Tingley, any Alaska resident, including military personnel who have been in the state more than 12 months, are eligible for the red and blue personal use fishery. The permits are available at the Douglas ADF&G office at 802 3rd St. until the fishery closes. They are not available online.
Prior to harvesting king crab, fishermen older than 16 must also obtain a valid resident sport-fishing license Crab-catchers older than 60 or must have a permanent identification card.
“The thing to do is to put everybody’s name, all the members of your household, on the permit,” Tingley said. “That way, whoever happens to be out on the water, they need to have the permit and their fishing license and they can go ahead and harvest crab.”
Tingley said, however, that the names on the permit must all reside at the same household address.
Restrictions on the fishery include a summer seasonal limit of two crab per household and a daily limit of two crab per permit. Only one permit is allowed per household.
Only one crab pot is allowed per vessel. Even if multiple permit holders are on one single vessel they can only collectively fish one pot among them. Each permit holder can, however, try to catch and possess his two seasonal crab.
There is no pot size restriction. Crab restrictions allow only for males 7 inches or greater in width across the carapace.
The issued permits must be returned to the Douglas ADF&G office by Aug. 1. A permit must be returned before another can be issued for the next calendar year’s fishery.
“The requirement is you return the permit,” Tingley stated. “The permit tells us what you caught and lets us evaluate how the fishery and harvest is going.”
Tingley stated the appeal of the fishery is that it is close to home.
“The bulk of the people go out from Auke Bay,” Tingley said. “It is just a nice fishery. It’s Alaskan king crab available for your taking. I participate whenever I can get somebody to take me out in a boat.”
Per regulations, the crab cannot be sold and can only be shared with the permit holder’s immediate family. Technically, visiting friends cannot share it at the permit holder’s dining table, nor can it be shipped to others down south or residents in Alaska.
“Are the troopers going to be sitting in your kitchen? No,” Tingley said. “It is very much directed towards home usage by immediate family.”
The boundary for the 11A fishery essentially includes the waters of Gastineau Channel, Stephens Passage and Lynn Canal between the Coast Guard marker and light on Point Arden to Bishop Point north to Little Island Light, east from Little Island Light to the mainland District Boundary Regulatory Marker, and west from Little Island Light to Point Retreat Lighthouse. This includes waters around Juneau, Point Young, Point Hilda, Outer Point, Barlow Cove, Shelter Island, Portland Island, and Amalga Harbor.
The red and blue king crab personal use fishery is also open outside the 11A boundaries. The bag and possession limit for that pot fishery is two crab per day per person, and no permit is required. That fishery opened July 1 and remains open until March 31.
Another caveat for the personal use crabber is golden king. Although in deeper water and requiring a heavier pot, the crustacean is just as large, if not bigger, just as tasty and does not require a permit.
“They occasionally show up in red king pots but not very often,” Tingley said.
If a fisherman has harvested six goldens in a day, he can no longer fish that day, but he can fish the next day for six more crab. When the fisherman harvests his two allotted red and blue kings, he can still continue to harvest golden king. The golden king crab personal use season in all Alaskan waters runs July 1 through June 15.
A total of three red, blue or golden king crab are allowed per day in areas 11A, 12B, 15B, and 15C, of which only two may be red or blue king crab. Outside of these areas the combined total of red, blue, and golden king crab is six, of which only two may be red or blue.
Area 12B runs from behind Lincoln Island to Point Couverden, area 15B covers Berners Bay, and 15C runs north of Ralston Island to the latitude of Point Sherman Rock Light.
Four pots are allowed for king crab anywhere except inside 11A.
“But you had better not be in areas of high use for red king or tanner crab,” Tingley warned. “Golden live in deeper water. The problem comes when people try to figure out how to keep a pot in the water longer to catch reds. There is a penalty.”
Fishermen are encouraged to contact the department if they have questions regarding the catch and possession limits. For 11A area crab fisheries contact Tingley at 465-4243. For crab fisheries outside 11A contact Adam Messmer at 465-4853 or Joe Stratman at 772-5238.
The red and blue crab fishery is an annual fishery. There was a short fishery in 2010 and the fishery was closed in 2008 and 2009. The annual survey in 2010 and 2011 showed a harvestable surplus, which allows the fishery to open. The harvest level quota is 1,300 crab.
“The fishery is just fun,” Tingley said. “The public loves it and they have been very patient over the past few years waiting for it to happen again.”
• Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.