ADF&G says, "They are looking at the population as a whole" in its red king crab survey. It is hard to see what they are looking for when they set their pots strictly by a computer grid, without any consideration of bottom contour or effects of environmental changes.
Most of "their" pots are set on starfish habitat, not red king crab habitat. When the fishermen set the Fish and Game pots they always caught crab.
If a fisherman were looking for red king crab females, he would look in different areas than where the large populations of males live.
The only crab that Fish and Game would recover data from were the few that they caught in their pots, and all the crab that the fishermen caught were quickly counted and thrown overboard without any data collected.
ADF&G's fall survey was a quick two-day look at some of the "key" areas that the Fish and Game's summer survey showed as having severe reduction in red king crab population, warranting a closure for the 2004 season. The fishermen paid for this fall survey, and proved to Fish and Game that the bays do in fact have healthy crab population. If this had been a real crab opening with more days, fishermen would have had even more impressive averages of crab per pot.
Personal use (sport fishing) remains open to catch red king crab. Not only do they get to catch the rest of their 11A quota, but also the 40 percent allotted to commercial fishing as well. Yet they are worried about the stocks?
Fishermen saw better fishing than ever before in many areas, with log records to prove it. They saw healthy numbers of crab in almost all the areas surveyed.
Fishermen want good sound management that will protect their resources for future years. This closure is unfair to fishermen and the economy of Southeast Alaska. Repeated messages were left to Fish and Game biologists to discuss the results of this survey, and calls were never returned.
The efforts and results of the Fish and Game survey has been a waste of time and money. Fishermen's 238 legal males in 20 pots compared to the Fish and Game's six legal males in 40 pots shows that change is needed.
Mark and Karen Severson