Alaska Red King Crab Enhancement: Juvenile Growth and Field Habitat Studies
University of Alaska Southeast
School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks
- Jodi Pirtle, PhD program
- Melissa Rhodes-Reece, BS program
- Miranda Westphal, MS program
This project responds to the need for red king crab enhancement research expressed by the Alaska King Crab Research and Rehabilitation Program (AKCRRAB), a partnership among the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska Sea Grant, the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery, NOAA Fisheries, Alaska communities, and a number of commercial fishing trade groups and associations.
In this project, researchers will study the early benthic stages of red king crab through laboratory studies on growth, and field studies on the functional importance of biogenic habitats. The knowledge gained will be critical to the effective out-stocking of red king crab, and important to the evaluation of a potential enhancement program.
Dramatic and still-unexplained declines of king crab species, such as red king crab and blue king crab, have caused their populations in some parts of Alaska to remain low for decades, resulting in closed and curtailed fisheries that have limited the economic opportunities of Alaska fishing-dependent communities. Large-scale enhancement has been promoted as a way to help these wild stocks recover.
Why is this an Alaska Sea Grant project?
This project responds to the need for red king crab enhancement research expressed by area residents, community leaders, and commercial fishing trade groups and associations.
Goal One of the Alaska Sea Grant Strategic Plan 2004–2010 seeks to "develop management strategies that incorporate ecosystem approaches to fishery harvest balanced with conservation of Alaska's living resources from marine, estuarine, and coastal watershed environments." Within this goal, Objective One encourages funding of "socioeconomic and biological research on ecosystem approaches to fishery harvests that are sustainable and that minimize impacts on ecosystem functioning." A key strategy to meet this objective is to "conduct research on new methodologies to better understand stock structure, life history, and basic biology, behavior, and ecology of economically and culturally important fish and shellfish species."
How will researchers conduct their study?
Researchers will study the early benthic stages of red king crab through laboratory studies on growth and field studies on the functional importance of biogenic habitats. The knowledge gained will be critical to an effective pilot stocking program and important to the evaluation of a potential enhancement program.
Allan Stoner, NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Newport, Oregon