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Advisory panel drafts crab plan


The Upper Lynn Canal Fish and Game Advisory Committee is taking its crab proposal to a March 19 Department of Fish and Game task force charged with discussing Dungeness issues in Southeast.

The proposal, put together by committee members and Haines residents Jamie King and Kip Kermoian, would use the commercial Dungeness crabbing fleets Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE) as a trigger for closure.

For example, if the fleet’s reported CPUE fell below a certain number for a season, the following season would be closed until a test fishery determined the CPUE had risen above the determined threshold.

CPUE measures abundance of a species. A decreasing CPUE indicates overexploitation of a resource, while an increasing CPUE indicates sustainable harvesting.

The board voted 6-1 at Tuesday’s meeting to take the proposal to the task force on March 19. Board member Dean Risley was opposed.

The board didn’t decide the exact CPUE number to set, or where the closure area would be, although King wrote in the draft proposal the closure would affect District 115, which encompasses all of Lynn Canal just north of Lincoln Island.

The board hopes to get direction on filling out the details for the proposal during the task force meeting. The Dungeness portion of the task force meeting runs from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. and will include updates on the 2012 and 2013 Dungeness fishery and discussion of 2015 Board of Fisheries proposal ideas.

Board chair Tim McDonough said the proposal is an attempt to “draw a line in the sand” where closure mechanisms can be triggered early enough to prevent drastic decimation of the stocks.

“Essentially it’s an attempt to say if we get to a point where we are seeing crab populations are really falling, we’re not willing to just say, ‘Oh, well, it will come back,’” McDonough said.

Commercial crab fisherman Stuart DeWitt spoke against the proposal. “I don’t see how it is possible to overharvest Dungeness crab stock,” DeWitt said. “I just am not one to go putting regulations on ourselves if the biologists don’t think we need it. I have a hard time buying into that.”

The board has a tentative meeting set for 6 p.m. March 20 to revisit the proposal following the task force discussion.

The deadline to submit crab proposals to the Board of Fisheries for consideration in 2015 is April 10.