Juneau's personal-use fishing season for red and blue king crabs will close early - at 6 p.m. Saturday - due to steep declines in their numbers.
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The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced the change on Friday and said the decision was based on a survey completed in June.
"This is a major closure for the fishery, and it's significant," Fish and Game spokesman Al Tingley said. "It's the result of information we've had and the status of the fishery. We just want to get the word out to the public so they have the opportunity to finish what they're doing, get their gear out of the water and not get in trouble."
The estimated biomass is at its lowest point since 1991, according to the department.
The cause of the declines is hard to pin on any one thing," Tingley said.
"It's just a combination of natural cycles, the amount of fishing and any number of environmental conditions," he said.
Crabbers must remove their pots from Juneau waters by July 14. They should return crabbing permits to the Douglas Fish and Game office by Oct. 15, even if no crabs were harvested, the department announced.
The Juneau area includes the Gastineau Channel, Stephens Passage, Lynn Canal north of a line from the U.S. Coast Guard marker and light on Point Arden to Bishop Point, south of a line at the latitude of Little Island Light, and east of a line from Little Island Light to Point Retreat Light.
Ken Lewis can be reached at email@example.com.
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