Snow crab season in Alaska canceled abruptly due to diminishing population
The snow crab population is starting to plummet in Alaska, resulting in crabbing season being put on hold for the first time in recent memory.
Hundreds of Alaskan crabbers will be sidelined for at least a year and a half while agencies investigate what is behind the decline, Fox Weather reports. The crabbing season was supposed to start in a few days.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries is reported to have found a lack of adult crabs available for harvest.
"We use those numbers in an assessment model that get plugged into harvest strategy that annually determines the amount of crowd that can get harvested," explained Miranda Westphal, a biologist with Alaska's Department of Fish and Game.
According to Westphal, one possible reason for the decline of the snow crab population is starvation.
"Their metabolic demands were increased because they were in warmer water, and many likely starved to death. They were also likely impacted by predators and disease," Westphal explained.
Fox News reports that the crabbing industry believes members of the Alaskan fleet will face bankruptcy and a total of $1 billion in overall losses.
"What the crab industry is facing is heartbreaking, and what's worse is that it is unnecessary. It didn't have to be this way," said Jamie Goen, executive director of the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers. "The crab will eventually bounce back and could do so sooner if the North Pacific Fishery Management Council had taken steps to protect the stock, as requested by the fishermen themselves."