Commercial fishermen catching lots of crabs

  • Jul. 23, 2003 3:00 p.m.

The crabs are climbing into the traps, and it looks like crab fishers at the north end of the islands are going to have a good season this year.
“There appears to be an abundance of crabs in the area,” says DFO resource management biologist-shellfish Beth Bornhold.
“It’s very early to tell, but initial comments from the fishermen have been positive,” she said.
The commercial crab fishery for dungeness crabs opened a couple of weeks ago, and will continue for the next nine to 10 months. The crab boats are out in northern Hecate Strait to the east of Graham Island, where the sandy bottom provides an ideal habitat for crab. In September, they will be allowed to fish in McIntyre Bay at the north end of the island between Masset Inlet and Rose Spit.
Two years ago, the fishers had a phenomenal year, Ms Bornhold said, with 3,300 tons of crabs harvested. Last year was not as good with only 1,700 tons. Through the 1990s the catch varied from 1,100 to 4,700 tons annually.
Environmental conditions and the number of crab boats affect the catch each season. This year, all 41 Area A licenses are active, Ms Bornhold said.
Earlier this year, the Old Masset Village Council expressed concern about the recreational crab fishery on North Beach. The commercial fishery is managed completely separately from the recreational fishery, Ms Bornhold said.
Commercial crab fishers are tightly regulated and monitored by Archipelago Marine Research, a private company contracted to provide video and electronic surveillance of crab fishers.
“We know exactly what they’re doing, when they’re doing it,” Ms Bornhold said.