Alaska's snow crab season has been canceled for the first time in history KossyDerrickBlog KossyDerrickEnt

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Saturday, October 15, 2022

Alaska's snow crab season has been canceled for the first time in history

Information reaching Kossyderrickent has it that Alaska's snow crab season has been canceled for the first time in history. An estimated 1 billion crabs have mysteriously disappeared, which is a 90% drop in their population. (Read More Here).

For the first time, crews in Alaska won’t be braving ice and sea spray to pluck snow crab from the Bering Sea. 

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game canceled the snow crab season earlier this week after a catastrophic population crash of the sizable crustaceans. The red king crab season was canceled for the second year in a row, making it a two-pronged disaster for Alaska’s economy and for those whose livelihoods rely on crab.

“It’s going to be life-changing, if not career-ending, for people,” said Dean Gribble Sr., a 63-year-old crab boat captain who has fished for “opies” — snow crab — since the late 1970s. “A lot of these guys with families and kids, there’s no option other than getting out. That’s where the hammer is going to fall — on the crew.” 

Alaskan ecosystems — which are warming faster than other regions because of their proximity to the North Pole — have been roiled by marine heat waves and other impacts made more likely by climate change. 

Scientists are still evaluating the cause or causes of the snow crab collapse, but it follows a stretch of record-breaking warmth in Bering Sea waters that spiked in 2019. Miranda Westphal, an area management biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said the warmer waters likely contributed to young crabs’ starvation and the stock’s decline.

Between 2019 and 2021, snow crab numbers in the Bering Sea fell by about 90%. 2022 counts have dropped even further, said Miranda Westphal, a state Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) biologist, to Alaska Public Media. “In 2021 when they surveyed, we saw the largest decline we’ve ever seen in the snow crab population, which was very startling, I think, for everyone,” Westphal told the outlet.

“Management of Bering Sea snow crab must now focus on conservation and rebuilding given the condition of the stock,” said the ADF&G in its announcement. “Efforts to advance our science and understanding of crab population dynamics are underway.”

The state’s crab fishing industry, dramatized in Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch, is floundering as a result. “People are really going to have to make some hard calls here, whether that’s...selling their vessels [or] looking for other opportunities in other fishing sectors which is few and far between,” one fisherman, Gabriel Prout, told Alaska Public Media. “Fishermen are really going to be hurting the next year,” he added.

Another fisher, Dean Gribble Sr., told NBC News that the cancelled season would be “life-changing, if not career-ending for people.” In 2020, NOAA valued Alaska’s snow crab harvest at more than $101.7 million. This year, it will be $0.00.

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