I posted about Shell's pledge to not move Kulluk until after the Tanner Crab Season which was dated January 16. I haven't gotten an update from the Kulluk Unified Command since January 18. Today is the 26th. So that's over a week. And since I'm not in Anchorage, I thought maybe something got by me. The Tanner Crab season should have been over by now based on what Mark Stichert, the Shellfish Management Biologist for the Alaska Department of Conservation, in Kodiak told me.
(Shell had said that they wouldn't move the oil rig until after the Tanner Crab season closed.)
So, I called Mark back on Friday (January 25) to find out if it had closed.
He said the season is still open at Kiliuda Bay. There'd been some bad weather and the ships crabbing are small (40-60 foot) and go in during bad weather. He said they were down to about 26 boats from the 44 that started. There was still 140,000 pounds of crab (of the original 520,000 lbs) to be caught before the season would be closed.
I asked him about a 660,000 pound figure I'd seen on a couple of websites (Island Seafoods and Deckboss). Mark responded that there were more than one Tanner fishery and that was the combined target.
He said very clearly where it would be open and closed, but my notes aren't consistent so I'm not 100% sure. My understanding is that the inshore quota has been reached, but not the offshore quota. But parts of Kiliuda Bay are still open.
How much longer before the season closes (and Shell can move the Kulluk based on their pledge to not move it until the season closes)?
Could be five more days, could be longer. They've been getting about 30,000 pounds a day, which would be about five days, but it depends on weather and how many boats keep fishing.
So, if someone wanted to keep the Kulluk there, maybe they could call most of the boats in and not get the quota for a while. I didn't think of that when I was talking to Mark. What happens if they don't reach the quota? Is there a time when he closes it even if the quota isn't met?