Wednesday, January 16, 2013

"The Kulluk will remain onsite in the inner Kiliuda Bay until the conclusion of the Tanner Crab fishing season."

Immediately I thought, when I read that in the Unified Command news release email (see it below),  "How long is the Tanner Crab fishing season?"

It turns out to depend on how fast they get their limit - but according to the man in charge, probably five or six days.  

I called Mark Stichert, Shellfish Management Biologist,  Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Commercial Fisheries, Western Region.  The Western Region is Kodiak and to the west.

The season just opened at noon today, because of a gale which postponed yesterday's scheduled opening.

Mark said there were about 44 fishing vessels in the area.  The fleet was concerned that moving the Kulluk during the season there would be a strong risk of their gear being damaged.

He said crab pots had to be out of the water at night, so they are in during the day and most are collected in the late afternoon.  They call their reports into Mark's office so he can determine when to close the season. 

The season lasts until the fleet collectively get 520,000 pounds of crab.  He's not sure exactly how long that will take, but he thinks maybe five or six days.  Once the fish are delivered to the Kodiak processors, they'll check the receipts to confirm the called in reports.

So, for the next five or six days, at least, the Kulluk will stay in Kiliuda Bay. 

It was nice to talk to an official who clearly knew what he was talking about and was comfortable sharing his knowledge with a blogger. 

Here's yesterday's news update from Shell:
Update #41: Kulluk remains stable; Unified Command develops mitigation strategies for crab fishery
Jan. 14, 2013
Unified Command confirmed the following information today:
  • The Kulluk remains in stable condition with no reports of a release.
  • Data from the completed underwater assessment of the Kulluk continues to be analyzed.
  • Unified Command has developed mitigation strategies collaboratively with the Kodiak Crab Alliance Cooperative. This will reduce potential impacts to the fishery during the upcoming crabbing season. Mitigation strategies include the following:
    • The Kulluk will remain onsite in the inner Kiliuda Bay until the conclusion of the Tanner Crab fishing season.
    • A Marine Coordinator will be onsite to coordinate the movement of response vessels. An update will be provided every four hours to the crab fishermen.
    • A claims process has been established for any crab fishermen losses that occur as a result of the Kulluk's presence in Kiliuda Bay during this year's Tanner Crab fishing season. 
  • Unified Command’s priorities continue to be the safety of all personnel and the environment.  [emphasis added]

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