Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Crabs won't survive state management


The disaster that is unfolding with our Dungeness stocks is the same story that has happened in other places in Southeast Alaska. Some believe that there is such resilience in the wild populations that even our most damaging destruction will be repaired by Mother Nature. It doesn’t work that way.

These excerpts are from Ronald Leighton’s 2010 correspondence when he was chairman of the cultural committee of the village of Kassan.

“The 2009 summer Dungeness crab fishery... left the Kasaan residents catching only about 3 percent of their traditional catch levels… The fall commercial fishery in Districts 1 & 2 fell by 50 percent… Fish and Game statistics indicated dead loss increased 10 times over 2002-2003… Studies conducted in Kodiak indicate there is a 40-50 percent mortality rate on caught and released soft-shelled crab… Studies show that a Dungeness crab handled four times does not survive.”

An ADF&G press release Aug. 7, 2013, regarding keeping the fall 2013 fishery opening refers to the failure to make quota in the summer fishery.“The Department has determined that an unusually high proportion of legal sized soft-shelled Dungeness crab were discarded.”

Amazingly, ADF&G recommended keeping the fall fishery open. Idiota.

So we can all understand why 300-pot boats are camping out for months in the waters of Haines and what that means for our crab. The biologist responsible for this fishery is clueless. It’s our duty to respond to his arrogance. John Norton


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