Panel working on crab proposal
The Upper Lynn Canal Fish and Game Advisory Committee is taking a small step toward addressing ongoing tension between commercial and subsistence Dungeness crabbers in Haines.
The committee voted at its Jan. 22 meeting to organize a subcommittee charged with putting together a proposal that would close commercial crabbing a quarter-mile from the shoreline during the summer commercial crabbing season.
The closure would reach from Letnikof Point to the southern tip of Kochu Island on the Chilkat Inlet side, and from Portage Cove out to Lutak Inlet on the Chilkoot side.
The sub-committee working on the proposal is comprised of committee members Jamie King, Dean Risley and Kip Kermoian.
Kermoian said the group is discussing options and hopes to present the proposal to the advisory committee at its Feb. 19 meeting.
If approved by the committee, the proposal would need to be submitted to the state Board of Fisheries by April 10. The board will consider Southeast shellfish and finfish regulatory proposals next year.
Any individual can make a proposal to change existing regulations. Forms are at the Fish and Game office.
Kermoian said the motion developed at the Jan. 22 meeting included a sunset clause, meaning if the proposal was accepted, the committee would reexamine the situation after five years. “The sitting board would assess whether to continue that same strategy,” Kermoian said.
Kermoian said he, McDonough and King met with local commercial crabbers in mid-January to discuss whether the commercial fishermen would support requesting the state conduct a fishery-independent biomass estimate survey.
“Essentially, what they said they would do is look at any proposal we might have and comment on it,” Kermoian said.
Committee chair Tim McDonough said the specifics of the proposal are liable to change before it is voted on. “There is still a lot of different stuff going on. It’s still in the works, trying to sort out a really complex issue that doesn’t have a black and white answer,” McDonough said.
Kermoian said the committee was recently provided with data showing the catch per unit effort (CPUE) in the last seven years. CPUE is used to estimate the abundance of a population; a decreasing CPUE indicates overexploitation of a resource, while an unchanging or increasing CPUE indicates sustainable harvesting.
Scott Kelley, Fish and Game’s regional supervisor for Southeast, did not return calls for comment.