The Council reviewed the final BSAI Crab Stock Assessment Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report and received information on the status of the ten federally managed crab stocks. Based on this report, the SSC recommends overfishing levels (OFLs) and acceptable biological catch levels (ABCs) for 2018/19 and reports on catch accruing towards these levels in the previous year (see table below). The SAFE report also provides stock status in relation to status determination criteria. For stocks for which biomass information is available, a determination of where the current biomass is in relation to its target (BMSY) managed stock size is provided. EBS Tanner crab and Aleutian Islands golden king crab are estimated to be above BMSY for 2018/19, while EBS snow crab, Bristol Bay red king crab, Pribilof Islands red king crab and Norton Sound red king crab have all declined since last year, and are estimated below BMSY. The Pribilof Islands blue king crab stock remains overfished, and is estimated to be well below its minimum stock size threshold (MSST). Saint Matthew blue king crab is also estimated to drop below its MSST in 2019, and therefore the Council anticipates receiving an overfished determination from NMFS following this meeting, which will initiate steps to prepare and implement a rebuilding plan amendment for this stock.
Under a process to accommodate specific fishery and data availability needs, the Crab Plan Team and SSC review assessments in a staggered time frame, with some stocks assessed on an annual basis while others are assessed less frequently. The cycle for assessment frequency is shown in the table below, in conjunction with the SSC’s recommended OFLs and ABCs. Stocks can be assessed more frequently on a case-by-case basis, if data indicates it is necessary.
The Crab Plan Team will meet next in Nome, Alaska, for their January 22-25, 2019 meeting. Additional details, including draft agenda, logistics and other information, will be posted to the Council’s website in the next month to facilitate arrangements. Staff contact for BSAI crab stocks is Diana Stram.
Status of Bering Sea crab stocks in relation to status determination criteria (BMSY, MSST, overfishing) for 2018.
*Status of Pribilof Islands blue king crab and Pribilof Islands red king crab is based on the 2017 assessment.
**Note that information is insufficient to assess Tier 5 stocks according to these criteria (i.e., Western Aleutian Islands red king crab, Pribilof Islands golden king crab.