Development of a Marine Habitat Protection Area in Bristol Bay, Alaska

Development of a Marine Habitat Protection Area in Bristol Bay, Alaska

David Ackley and David Witherell

Development of a Marine Habitat Protection Area in Bristol Bay, AlaskaThis is part of Ecosystem Approaches for Fisheries Management
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Description

An extensive area in Bristol Bay, Alaska, was proposed as a no trawling zone to protect red king crab habitat from potential impacts. The Bristol Bay red king crab stock has remained at low abundance levels since a stock collapse in 1980. A literature review indicated that the proposed area encompassed all available habitat essential for red king crab juveniles of this stock. Published studies have shown that trawling could potentially degrade high-relief living habitat used extensively by red king crab juveniles, yet portions of the proposed area were also important and lucrative areas for trawl fisheries targeting yellowfin sole. Analysis indicated that a sub-area within the proposed closure area could be open to trawling on a seasonal basis and not severely impact crab habitat or increase crab bycatch. Closure of the remaining larger area to trawling could result in improved crab recruitment and subsequent benefits to crab fisheries.

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