Norton Sound Red King Crab OFL/ABC for 2021 and January Crab Plan Team Meeting Report
The Council received an overview of the 2021 stock assessment for Norton Sound red king crab (NSRKC) as well as other issues addressed at the January 2021 CPT meeting. For NSRKC, the SSC recommended increasing the buffer for ABC in 2021 from 30% to 40%, based on a wide range of concerns identified in their report to the Council. Consistent with the recommendations of the SSC, the Council specified 2021 NSRKC OFL at 0.29 thousand metric tons (0.63 million pounds) and ABC of 0.17 thousand metric tons (0.38 million pounds).
Norton Sound Red King Crab Stock Status
The updated BSAI Crab SAFE chapter for NSRKC indicates that the 2021 biomass of mature male crab is 2.27 thousand metric tons, which is above BMSY (2.05 thousand metric tons) but above the minimum stock size threshold (1.03 thousand metric tons), and, therefore, the stock not overfished. Additionally, because the 2020 total catch was below the OFL specified for 2020 (0.13 thousand metric tons), overfishing did not occur.
The Crab Plan Team and SSC identified a range of concerns related to the NSRKC stock that contributed to the reduction in ABC. These included uncertainty in methods for estimating discards and total abundance, declining reproductive potential, and uncertainty in model inputs and model fit.
Other issues covered at the January CPT meeting and reviewed by the SSC, AP, and Council included modeling scenarios for the May 2021 stock assessment for Aleutian Islands golden king crab, survey planning and data collection, using the groundfish risk table for crab stocks, a questionnaire for improving stakeholder input, the 2020 crab economic SAFE, ecosystem inputs for snow crab modeling, tagging studies, climate change and crab management, crab PSC in groundfish fisheries, research priorities, terms of reference, stock assessment prioritization, and a CPT workshop on the GMACS modeling framework.
Staff contact for the BSAI Crab Plan Team is Jim Armstrong.