Optimistic news comes from the Gulf of Alaska. Biologists have tracked a large cohort of Tanner crab in the Westward region for three years. The cohort’s summer numbers indicate a strong possibility for 2022 Tanner crab fisheries.
The potential of a robust Tanner crab season comes as a bright spot for the Alaskan fishing industry after the Alaska Department of Fish and Game cancelled the 2021-2022 red king crab season.
The last Tanner crab fishery operated during the 2020 season with a fleet of 49 boats.
Large Female Tanner Crab Populations Drive Chances of 2022 Season
Tanner crab harvests rely on a high number of females. Alaska has cancelled previous years’ Tanner fisheries due to low female populations. It is this year’s high female Tanner crab population that gives 2022 a potential harvest.
The Alaskan commercial crab industry operates according to population numbers from the annual National Marine Fisheries Service survey. The Tanner crab female population was a saving grace amongst other crabs’ low population numbers.
A Local Favorite: Tanner Crab
Tanner crabs are named for Zera Luther Tanner, a commander for an Alaskan exploration vessel called the Albatross in the late 1800s. Some retailers might refer to Tanner crabs as bairdi crabs.
Tanners are the larger cousins of the Bering Sea snow crab. Fishers harvest legal-sized male crabs that weigh 2-4 pounds. Tanner crabs typically become legal-sized at the age of four or five, and they live to be seven or eight. This life span gives Tanner crabs approximately three years of harvest potential.
These meaty crabs are a favorite among Alaskans. Tanner crabs have a delicate, sweet flavor and a texture that some describe as creamy and more succulent than snow crab.
The 2-4 pound Tanner crabs are larger than snow crabs, which tend to be only 1.5-2.5 pounds. Tanners have a meat yield of about 20%.
The 2020 Tanner crab fishery averaged more than $4 per pound for legal-sized male crabs. The ten-year average is about $2.48 per pound. As crab demand increases, and other crab populations decrease, the Tanner crab price-per-pound just might increase.
Strong Potential for 2022 Tanner Crab Fisheries
Nat Nichols, an area manager for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at Kodiak, reports, “We’ve at least hit the minimum abundance thresholds in all three areas of Kodiak, Chignik, and the South Peninsula.” This statement is a good sign for 2022 Tanner fishery possibilities. Managers will take several more regulatory calculations before announcing the go-ahead for a 2022 Tanner crab fishery.
These population numbers are an encouraging start to the process. Because the numbers meet the minimum abundance thresholds and prospects seem manageable, the industry is considering six potential fisheries. The Semidi Islands actually overlap a section of the Kodiak district, which would add an additional fishery for a total of seven Tanner crab fisheries.
A full announcement about the 2022 Tanner crab fisheries comes in early November. If managers give the green light, fisheries would open in mid-January.
Take note of our Affiliate Relationships that may exist with this page and companies listed on it.