The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration downgraded the southern tanner crab – or bairdi – in its annual report to Congress.
In 2011, the crab was listed as over fished. Now, the federal government reports the stock as safe.
Emily Menashes, a deputy director in the Office of Sustainable Fisheries, said over fishing means the harvest rate is too high for a population. The distinction over fished is when a population is too low. In the case of the tanner, it’s now considered rebuilt.
“Which means that a previously over fished stock has returned to its target population level,” she told a conference call Thursday.
That’s good news, said Gretchen Harrington, who works for NOAA in Anchorage.
Harrington said the change comes from a couple of factors, including highly fluctuating populations and how the federal government measures the volume of the stock. The tanner crab population was considered rebuilt in 2007 as well.
It’s unclear whether the state will open a tanner crab season this year.
“While we might not call it over fished, the state might decide to not open the fishery for a number of other reasons,” she said.
Those include the total amount of female tanner crab. There was no tanner crab season last year. The season runs during the fall and winter.