Seawatch by Cristy Fry

May 20, 2021

Fishing for shellfish in Prince William Sound has been hit and miss this spring, with the Tanner crab fishery catch down significantly, but the pot shrimp fishery experiencing good catches and hot sales so far.


The Cordova Times reports that harvesters in the Tanner crab fishery caught 56,352 pounds, down considerably from the 108,854 delivered from the fishery a year ago.


“We had less participation this year,” said ADF&G area management biologist Jan Rumble. “That, and the closure of some areas because of conservation concerns resulted in a lower harvest.”


The 2021 season opening date was delayed by one day due to inclement weather, subsequently opening on March 2, with a pot limit of 25 pots per vessel. Then the fishery closed by emergency order on March 31. One statistical area was closed for the season due to the harvest and catch per unit effort declining between the 2018 and 2020 seasons to very low levels, Rumble said.


The majority of the harvest occurred the Western District, with minimal harvest in the five statistical areas in the Eastern District.


Ten boats and 17 permit holders participated in this year's fishery, compared with 27 permits and 22 boats last season.


The shrimp fishery has gone much better so far, with the first opening on April 15 producing 70,000 pounds before it closed on April 28.


That was followed by another opening on May 10, which closed ten days later.


Mikee Flora told Seawatch that he had a pretty good opening, especially after the pot limit was raised from 30 per boat to 40 due to minimal participation.


He said that about 100 boats had registered, but only about 57 actually showed up.


He thought the fishing was pretty good.


“I caught 150 pounds in 3 days,” he said, although he declined to say how many pounds were eaten on board.


“I didn't eat very many,” he said, “I was just trying to haul gear.”


He said that ice was an issue in at least one fjord off of Icy Bay; he shared pictures of himself standing on an ice floe beside the boat.


“I guess they call it Icy Bay for a reason,” he said.


He said he doesn't have a metric to judge the fishing from other years as it was his first year participating in the fishery.


The pot shrimp fishery is expected to run into September.


This article also appears in the Homer News. Cristy Fry can be reached at [email protected]. Seawatch is signing off to go fishing for the summer.