Last updated on 10 March 2016

SUMMARY

SUMMARY

IDENTIFICATION

SCIENTIFIC NAME(s)

Chionoecetes opilio

SPECIES NAME(s)

Queen crab, snow crab

According to Albrecht et al. (2014) a panmitic population of queen crab exists in Alaska, across Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. An assessment unit is considered within the Eastern Bering Sea (NPFMC, 2011).


ANALYSIS

Strengths

A rebuilding strategy has reduced exploitation rates on U.S. Bering Sea snow crab, and the stock is no longer considered to be in an “overfished” condition.
Managers have set highly precautionary quotas based on scientific evidence and uncertainty.
Mangers also use other tools to curb exploitation and overfishing
Compliance with catch limits is strong.
A research program is in place to improve understanding of stock dynamics and other key factors.

Weaknesses

Buffer between OFL and ABC is fairly small given uncertainties in the assessment.
Life history, migrations, and population dynamics are poorly understood, making abundance estimates highly uncertain. Discard mortality is uncertain due to low observer coverage of total pot lifts. Exploitation rates in some areas may have exceeded target rates leading to localized areas of depletion.Effects of changes in climate and ocean chemistry are still poorly understood.

FISHSOURCE SCORES

Management Quality:

Management Strategy:

8.2

Managers Compliance:

10

Fishers Compliance:

10

Stock Health:

Current
Health:

≥ 6

Future Health:

10


RECOMMENDATIONS

CATCHERS & REGULATORS

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RETAILERS & SUPPLY CHAIN

1. This profile is not currently at the top of our priority list for update/development, and we can’t at this time provide an accurate prediction of when it will be developed. To speed up an evaluation of the sustainability status of non-prioritized fisheries we have initiated a program whereby industry can directly contract SFP-approved analysts to develop a FishSource profile on a fishery. More information on this External Contributor Program is available at http://www.sustainablefish.org/fisheries-information.


FIPS

No related FIPs

CERTIFICATIONS

No related MSC fisheries

Fisheries

Within FishSource, the term "fishery" is used to indicate each unique combination of a flag country with a fishing gear, operating within a particular management unit, upon a resource. That resource may have a known biological stock structure and/or may be assessed at another level for practical or jurisdictional reasons. A fishery is the finest scale of resolution captured in FishSource profiles, as it is generally the scale at which sustainability can most fairly and practically be evaluated.

ASSESSMENT UNIT MANAGEMENT UNIT FLAG COUNTRY FISHING GEAR
Eastern Bering Sea US Eastern Bering Sea United States Traps

Analysis

OVERVIEW

Last updated on 27 August 2013

Strengths

A rebuilding strategy has reduced exploitation rates on U.S. Bering Sea snow crab, and the stock is no longer considered to be in an “overfished” condition.
Managers have set highly precautionary quotas based on scientific evidence and uncertainty.
Mangers also use other tools to curb exploitation and overfishing
Compliance with catch limits is strong.
A research program is in place to improve understanding of stock dynamics and other key factors.

Weaknesses

Buffer between OFL and ABC is fairly small given uncertainties in the assessment.
Life history, migrations, and population dynamics are poorly understood, making abundance estimates highly uncertain. Discard mortality is uncertain due to low observer coverage of total pot lifts. Exploitation rates in some areas may have exceeded target rates leading to localized areas of depletion.Effects of changes in climate and ocean chemistry are still poorly understood.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Last updated on 28 June 2016

Improvement Recommendations to Catchers & Regulators

1. Please provide links to publicly available information on this fishery via the “Feedback” tab.
2. To apply to develop/update content for this profile register and log in and follow the links to “contribute to” / “edit this profile”. If you need more information, please use the “Contact Us” button above, and reference the full name of this profile.

Recommendations to Retailers & Supply Chain

1. This profile is not currently at the top of our priority list for update/development, and we can’t at this time provide an accurate prediction of when it will be developed. To speed up an evaluation of the sustainability status of non-prioritized fisheries we have initiated a program whereby industry can directly contract SFP-approved analysts to develop a FishSource profile on a fishery. More information on this External Contributor Program is available at http://www.sustainablefish.org/fisheries-information.

1.STOCK STATUS

STOCK ASSESSMENT

Last updated on 14 August 2013

The survey and size-based model used in the snow crab assessment have tended to underestimate biomass, indirectly promoting conservative harvest limits. Precision of abundance estimates has reportedly improved in recent years, especially for large male crabs, but uncertainty remains high(Turnock & Rugolo 2012).

SCIENTIFIC ADVICE

Last updated on 14 August 2013

Recent TAC recommendations (ABC) have been some what conservative representing about 90% of the Overfishing Limit (Turnock & Rugolo 2012).

Reference Points

Last updated on 14 Aug 2013

The overall management strategy is to allow for 0.10 harvest rate at ≥ MSST (1/2 BMSY) which increases linearly to 0.225 at BMSY. Below MSST directed fishing is prohibited (Turnock & Rugolo 2012). Applying these rates to the current Male Biomass is how the OFL and ABC are calculated.

CURRENT STATUS

Last updated on 14 August 2013

Current trend suggest strong rebuilding, with perhaps a slight downward trend in recent years.Biomass increased sharply during the rebuilding period and the currently estimated lower biomass maybe more of an artifact of the model, which tends to underestimate biomass in the terminal year (Turnock & Rugolo 2012). Overall fishing mortality tends to be trending upward in the last few years, but is still well below the recent high in 2007.

Trends

Last updated on 14 Aug 2013

This stock is characterized by dramatic fluctuations. Over the years, the status of the stock has fluctuated dramatically, leading to closures in the Bering Sea district. However current patterns suggest biomass is in good condition and exploitation while increasing has leveled off due to precautionary quota setting.

2.MANAGEMENT QUALITY

MANAGEMENT

Last updated on 14 August 2013

Managers have set highly precautionary quotas in recent years.The overall management strategy is to allow for 0.10 harvest rate at ≥ MSST (1/2 BMSY) which increases linearly to 0.225 at BMSY. Below MSST directed fishing is prohibited (Turnock & Rugolo 2012).

Additionally mangers use effort controls and the fact that is is a male only fishery as tools to curb overfishing.

Recovery Plans

Last updated on 14 Aug 2013

Stock is considered rebuilt. The overall management strategy is to allow for 0.10 harvest rate at ≥ MSST (1/2 BMSY) which increases linearly to 0.225 at BMSY. Below MSST directed fishing is prohibited (Turnock & Rugolo 2012).

COMPLIANCE

Last updated on 14 August 2013

The snow crab fishery appears to be adequately monitored and enforced. Observer coverage has been 10% on catcher vessels larger than 125 ft since 2001, and 100% on catcher processors since 1992. However, assessment authors note that only 0.5% of total pot lifts were observed in 2002. U.S. authorities employ at-sea vessels that retain the right to pull and check pot gear. A surveillance aircraft monitors seasonal and area closures. Quotas are strict and fishery performance is monitored in-season, and fishing is closedwhen deemed necessary to avoid exceeding the Quota.

3.ENVIRONMENT AND BIODIVERSITY

BYCATCH
ETP Species

Last updated on 2 March 2009

The Alaska snow crab fishery is not known to have a significant rate of encounters with protected, endangered or threatened species. For bowhead whales, an average annual of 0.2 animals per year were reported as entangled in crab gear during 1999-2003 (Alaska Marine Mammal Stock Assessments, NMFS, 2005, p. 196), but it is not known which crab fishery they encountered.

Other Species

Last updated on 7 May 2013

Non-target crab (females and sub-legal males, other crab species) account for the vast majority of the bycatch taken in the snow crab fishery.Alaska crab fisheries also take small amounts of other species as bycatch, including octopus, cod, halibut, other flatfish, sponges, coral and sea stars; bycatch is discarded. Bycatch of snow crab in other fisheries is capped, generally at 0.1133% of total abundance (as indicated by NMFS trawl survey). Escape panels and other gear modifications have been introduced to reduce bycatch mortality.

HABITAT

Last updated on 2 March 2009

Impacts of snow crab pots are generally thought to be low. Snow crab are caught in soft sediments, which are “less likely to be affected than other habitat types,” according to NMFS FishWatch. Impacts from trawl gear on snow crab habitat are constrained by trawl closures and bycatch limits. Climate and oceanographic change can be significant habitat factors. Assessment authors note that survey distributions have moved north over time. Researchers at the NMFS Kodiak and Auke Bay labs have reported experiments showing that ocean acidification—an effect of anthropogenic CO2 emissions—may cause significant mortality in juvenile blue king crab and retard growth of survivors.

Marine Reserves

Last updated on 02 Mar 2009

No MPAs, but there are extensive trawl and bottom trawl closures within and around the fishing area; some are specifically intended to protect crab habitat.

FishSource Scores

MANAGEMENT QUALITY

As calculated for 2011 data.

The score is 8.2.

This measures the F at low biomass as a percentage of the F management target.

The F at low biomass is 0.400 (from management plan). The F management target is 0.890 .

The underlying F at low biomass/F management target for this index is 44.9%.

As calculated for 2011 data.

The score is 10.0.

This measures the Set TAC as a percentage of the ABC.

The Set TAC is 40.3 ('000 t). The ABC is 66.2 ('000 t) .

The underlying Set TAC/ABC for this index is 61.0%.

As calculated for 2011 data.

The score is 10.0.

This measures the Catch as a percentage of the Set TAC.

The Catch is 40.3 ('000 t). The Set TAC is 40.3 ('000 t) .

The underlying Catch/Set TAC for this index is 100%.

STOCK HEALTH:

As calculated for 2011 data.

The score is ≥ 6.

Biomass is above the limit reference point, but no target reference point is set for the stock.

As calculated for 2011 data.

The score is 10.0.

This measures the F as a percentage of the F management target.

The F is 0.290 (age-averaged). The F management target is 0.890 .

The underlying F/F management target for this index is 32.6%.

To see data for biomass, please view this site on a desktop.
To see data for catch and tac, please view this site on a desktop.
To see data for fishing mortality, please view this site on a desktop.
No data available for recruitment
No data available for recruitment
To see data for management quality, please view this site on a desktop.
To see data for stock status, please view this site on a desktop.
DATA NOTES

Notes:
Catch and quotas are on the fishing rather then the calendar year.

Download Source Data

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Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs)

No related FIPs

Certifications

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

No related MSC certifications

Sources

Credits
  1. 2006 and 2007 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation Reportshttp://www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/membership/plan_teams/CPT/CRABSAFE06.pdf
  2. Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), 2011. Bering Sea snow crab season opens October 15: Total Allowable Catch announced. Alaska Department of Fish and Game- Division of Commercial Fisheries. October 05, 2011. Dutch Harbor. 2 pp.http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/home/news/pdfs/newsreleases/cf/91918691.pdf
  3. Albrecht, G.T., Valentin, A.E., Hundertmark, K.J., Hardy, S.M. 2014. Panmixia in Alaskan populations of snow crab Chionoecetes opilio (Crustacea:Decapoda) in the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas, Journal of Crustacean Biology 34:31-39http://www.researchgate.net/publication/263234998_Panmixia_in_Alaskan_populations_of_snow_crab_Chionoecetes_opilio_(Crustacea_Decapoda)_in_the_Bering_Chukchi_and_Beaufort_seas
  4. Bechtol et al., 2011. Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation Report for the king and tanner crab fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Regions. The Plan Team for the King and Tanner Crab Fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands- North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) . September 2011. Anchorage. 677 pp..http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/PDFdocuments/resources/SAFE/CrabSAFE/CrabSAFE2011.pdf
  5. “Bering Sea Snow Crab Fishery Opens October 15, Total Allowable Catch Announced,” ADFG, Sept 28, 2007http://www.cf.adfg.state.ak.us/region4/news/2007/nr100107snowtac.pdf
  6. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), 2004. Final environmental impact statement for Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands crab fisheries. Chapter 3: Affected environment (pp. 1-262). National Marine Fisheries Service. August 2004. Juneau, Alaska.http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries/crab/eis/final/Chapter3.pdf
  7. NMFS FishWatch summary on Alaska snow crabhttp://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/fishwatch/species/snow_crab.htm
  8. North Pacific Fishery Management Council, (NPFMC), 2008. Fishery Management Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs. North Pacific Fishery Management Council. December 2008. Anchorage, Alaska. 118 pp.http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/npfmc/PDFdocuments/fmp/CRAFMP2008.pdf
  9. North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC), 2011. Fishery Management Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs, 222pp.http://www.npfmc.org/wp-content/PDFdocuments/fmp/CrabFMPOct11.pdf
  10. Persselin, S, Blue King Crab Ocean Acidification Research, AFSC Quarterly Report of the Resource and Conservation Engineering Division, April-May-June 2007, NMFShttp://www.afsc.noaa.gov/Quarterly/amj2007/divrptsRACE10.htm
  11. Turnock, B. and Rugolo, J. 2012. Stock Assessment of eastern Bering Sea snow crab 2012. NMFS EBS Crab SAFE. NMFS. Anchorage Alaska, USAhttp://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/npfmc/PDFdocuments/resources/SAFE/CrabSAFE/CrabSAFE2012.pdf
References

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