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Commercial Tanner crab fishery opens in Eastern Aleutians for first time since 2018

Courtesy of Alaska Department of Fish and Game
The general harvest level for the Makushin/Skan Bay section of the fishery is 49,000 pounds, which is the second largest there’s been since the section was established in 2004.

There’s going to be a Tanner crab season in the Eastern Aleutians for the first time in five years, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

And while that’s great news for the fishery, only one section of the district will open — Makushin/Skan Bay, on the western side of Unalaska Island.

The other two sections — Unalaska/Kalekta Bay and Akutan — will remain closed.

Each year the Alaska Department of Fish and Game conducts a bottom trawl survey for Tanner crab in the Eastern Aleutian District. They can only open a commercial Tanner crab fishery when the abundance of mature male Tanner crab meets or exceeds stock size thresholds.

And even though the Akutan Sections and Unalaska/Kalekta Bay Sections didn’t reach those thresholds, Makushin/Skan Bay did for the first time since 2018.

Ethan Nichols is the assistant area management biologist for shellfish at the Dutch Harbor Fish and Game office. And he said the opening is a good sign.

“We're pretty excited about the fishery and Makushin this year, because we're seeing more legal crab than we've seen in quite a few years. And we feel that this year's removal is pretty conservative,” Nichols said.

That removal refers to the general harvest level — how much crab people can catch.

The level this year is 49,000 pounds, which is the second largest there’s been since the Makushin section of the fishery was established in 2004.

The fishery opens on January 15, 2023 at noon.

Theo Greenly reports from the Aleutians as a Report for America corps member. He got his start in public radio at KCRW in Santa Monica, California, and has produced radio stories and podcasts for stations around the country.