NOAA Fisheries boosts funding for Alaska king crab research

State-federal scientists continue studies aimed at rebuilding stocks

9/28/2007

Contact: Brian Allee, Director, Alaska Sea Grant, 907-474-7949; allee@sfos.uaf.edu.

NR: SG-2007/NR261

Fairbanks, Alaska—NOAA Fisheries, through its aquaculture program, has awarded $175,000 to Alaska Sea Grant to continue studies aimed at raising red and blue king crab at the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery in Seward, Alaska.

The studies are geared toward understanding the feasibility of using hatcheries as a way to rebuild wild red king crab stocks around Kodiak Island and blue king crab in waters around the Pribilof Islands. Populations of both stocks have remained low for decades and are currently closed to commercial fishing.

The funds are being provided to the Alaska Sea Grant Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. Alaska Sea Grant leads the Alaska King Crab Research, Rehabilitation and Biology (AKCRRAB) Program, a University of Alaska, NOAA Fisheries, and stakeholder effort.

“These wild king crab fisheries were once among the largest in the world,” said Michael Rubino, NOAA Fisheries aquaculture program manager in Washington, D.C. “With NOAA funding, Sea Grant's studies will help scientists increase our understanding of what it takes to successfully culture king crab on a large scale.”

The NOAA grant will support a full-time research biologist at the AKCRRAB Program, working at the UAF Seward Marine Center and the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery in Seward. The position is in addition to a NOAA research biologist based in Kodiak working part-time in the program, a Sea Grant-funded UAF graduate student, and two summer interns funded by the National Science Foundation.

"NOAA Fisheries supports the efforts of Alaska Sea Grant and the AKCRRAB Program to help Alaska rebuild these valuable crab stocks, and believes the funding will improve understanding of blue and red king crab hatchery culture," said Doug DeMaster, Alaska Region science and research director of the NOAA Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute in Juneau.