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By Dan Rudy 

Advisory committee discusses shrimp, shellfish policies

 


Wrangell's advisory committee to Alaska Department of Fish and Game held the second of several public meetings at the Fire Hall Dec. 11, to discuss Board of Fisheries proposals for the 2014-15 meeting cycle.

This committee provides a forum for fishing and game management issues, allowing the public to review and discuss new proposals and to provide recommendations to both state boards of Fisheries and Game.

To consult with them on crab, shellfish and shrimp management policies were Joe Stratman and Troy Thynes from Petersburg's ADFG office.

The committee unanimously supported repealing the Southeastern Alaska Area Dungeness Crab Fisheries Management Plan, reasoning it to be ineffective.

“It seems like it won't be necessary,” said committee member Brennon Eagle. In particular, targets set by the policy are said to have proven inaccurate and the plan only enacted once.

Stratman explained that the plan has been in effect since 2000, and allows flexibility over what the duration of the closure is. Even if the plan were repealed, he said ADFG will still have time and area authority, and would be able to enact a closure in the event of emergency.

If repealed, Dungeness management would return to its previous form, guided by size, sex and season.

The committee also supported amended Proposal 95, inserting notes prepared by Eagle into the comments. These related to focusing on how the size and catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) changes over the course of the fishery when adjusting preseason target levels.

“We want to see this evolve not just in 6 and 7, but in management all across Southeast,” said Chris Guggenbickler, chairing the committee.

The committee supported Proposal 97, dividing District 1 into three distinct commercial pot shrimp fishing areas. In supporting the measure, Eagle suggested amending it by striking the last sentence.

“The rest of it I would like to leave because it is valid,” Eagle explained.

From a shrimping perspective, he explained it would help if the district was separated. Currently it is the largest district, encompassing bodies of water that have distinct shrimp populations from each other. So for example, a fast harvest in one area can reach quota for the whole district without other areas being affected.

The committee was also supportive of proposals 69, 95, 96 and 98, affecting the commercial Dungeness crab and pot shrimp fisheries.

The committee was opposed to Proposal 61, allowing for closure of the crab season due to soft-shell condition.

“I would be opposed to this, too,” Eagle said of the former. He explained it seemed to him that the industry is already doing enough of a job avoiding soft-shell crab.

For similar reasons they also opposed Proposal 65, extending the commercial Dungeness season end to Feb. 28.

“Here again, I think the status quo seems to be working,” Eagle said.

“There's a lot of pressure in those months. I don't think it would be good for them,” agreed committee member Otto Florschutz. He reasoned extending the season could cut into the egg-laying time for crab, and might affect the stock.

The committee was also opposed to proposals 70 through 79, limiting or closing the commercial crab fishery in various areas.

A full list and details of the proposals can be found at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov, under its policies section.

In other discussion, the committee looked forward to Wrangell's hosting the Fisheries Board meeting on Southeast and Yukutat crab, shrimp and shellfish at the Nolan Center from Jan. 21 to 27.

“I think we have a really good opportunity,” Florschutz said. He hoped local fishermen and especially younger workers would take time to attend and speak at the conference, particularly for maintaining a summer harvest.

“I think that really needs to be shown to the board,” he said.

Florschutz felt it provided students a chance to find good employment between school years. “If they want to work it's a good opportunity for them.”

The next meeting, on fin fish, is slated for this evening at 7 p.m., in the Fire Hall.

 

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