The Council reviewed the BSAI Crab Plan Team’s (CPT) report and the 2019 Norton Sound red king crab (NSRKC) stock assessment. The Council made a preliminary determination to approve the NSRKC SAFE report chapter as well as the SSC recommendation that 2019 OFL be set at 0.24 million lb. (0.11 thousand t) and that ABC be set at 0.19 million lb. (0.09 thousand t), using a buffer of 20%. The 20% buffer was recommended due to uncertainty about important stock dynamics that were identified in the SAFE and CPT reports. Due to the Federal government shutdown, which prevented the February Council meeting from being noticed in the Federal Register, the Council will revisit this action in a teleconference meeting on March 8th, and take final action.
The CPT met in Nome, Alaska, in January 2019, with an abbreviated agenda due to the Federal shutdown. Agenda items not covered in January have been deferred to the May 2019 CPT meeting. The CPT was, however, able to meet with several organizations while in Nome, as well as observe how ice fishing occurs for the fishery. The Team was grateful to the community of Nome for their hospitality.
The Council also received a presentation that summarized plans for developing a rebuilding plan for Saint Matthew blue king crab (SMBKC), which was declared overfished in October 2018. Additional information for the rebuilding plan, as well as the fall 2019 stock assessment, will be discussed at the CPT in May, including bycatch in crab and groundfish fisheries, potential area closures, and a productivity analysis of appropriate BMSY and recruitment in order to recommend alternatives for the rebuilding plan and scenarios for the final assessment. The Council will review and recommend alternatives for the rebuilding plan in June.
Staff contact for the CPT is Jim Armstrong and for SMBKC rebuilding is Diana Stram.