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Shellfish Assessment Program

Photo of red king crab

Shellfish Assesssment biologists conduct a wide range of research on various fish, crab, and shellfish species native to Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, Arctic Sea and Beaufort Sea waters, Alaska. Program research efforts are coordinated between two facilities: The AFSC's Kodiak Laboratory at the Kodiak Fisheries Research Center in Kodiak, Alaska and the NOAA Western Regional Center in Seattle, Washington.

A significant focus of Shellfish Assessment scientists at the Kodiak Laboratory is the annual crab/groundfish surveys, which assess the distribution and abundance of various commercially important crab and groundfish resources in the eastern Bering Sea. Shellfish Assessment scientists work closely with scientists from the RACE Groundfish Assessment Program to collect data which are used to both aid in the fishing industry in locating productive fishing grounds and help Crab Fisheries Management regulate takes to improve viability of future stocks.

The Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) crab scientists in Kodiak, Alaska and Seattle, Washington, have worked cooperatively with the University of Alaska, Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), and other agencies to assess and manage crab stocks in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands and the Arctic Fishery Management Plan regions.

The AFSC and the Bering Sea Fisheries Research Foundation (BSFRF) have been working cooperatively on research relative to Bering Sea king, snow, and southern Tanner crab surveys, biology, and assessment since 2004. The AFSC and the newly formed Aleutian King Crab Research Foundation (AKCRF) began working cooperatively in 2013.

These cooperative projects have focused on the evaluation of alternative survey methodology for Bristol Bay red king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus); the experimental determination of the trawl efficiency of the AFSC's Bering Sea survey trawl; the tagging of both snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) and red king crab to determine movements of these stocks within the survey area; the assessment of red king crab in the nearshore waters of Bristol Bay; the estimate of snow crab, southern Tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi) and golden king crab (Lithodes aequispinus) handling mortality; and the determination of snow crab and southern Tanner crab growth increments in the field and in the laboratory.

In addition, a variety of other major activities take place both in the field and laboratory:

News & Research Highlights

2017 Eastern Bering Sea Continental Shelf Bottom Trawl Survey (Draft)

2016 Eastern Bering Sea crab report (.pdf, 26 MB)

Watch the award winning student video on Vimeo (click picture to play video):

Video on Vimeo of Shellfish Assessment Program divers and hatchery red king
			crab. Click image to link to video.
Kodiak Crab Divers and Hatchery Red King Crab

Recent Publications, Poster Presentations, Reports & Activities

  • LANG, C. A., J. I. RICHAR, and R. J. FOY. 2019. The 2018 eastern Bering Sea continental shelf and northern Bering Sea trawl surveys: Results for commercial crab species. U.S. Dep. Commer., NOAA Tech.Memo. NMFS-AFSC-386, 220 p.  Online.
  • MURPHY, J. T., L. J. RUGOLO, and B. J. TURNOCK. 2018. Estimation of annual, time-varying natural mortality and survival for Eastern Bering Sea snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) with state-space population models. Fish. Res. 205:122-131.   Online.
  • LANG. C. A., J. I. RICHAR, R. J. FOY. 2018. The 2017 eastern Bering Sea continental shelf and northern Bering Sea bottom trawl surveys: Results for commercial crab species. U.S. Dep. Commer., NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-AFSC-372, 233 p.   Online.
  • SWINEY, K. M., W. C. LONG, and R. J. FOY. 2017. Decreased pH and increased temperatures affect young-of-the-year red king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus). ICES J. Mar. Sci. 74:1191-1200.   Online.
  • Decreased pH Changes Juvenile Blue King Crab Morphology and Decreases Growth and Survival
    Conference:  Alaska Marine Science Symposium, Anchorage, AK, Jan 2016
    (2016 poster, .pdf, 1.16 MB)   Online.

  • A Biophysical Modeling Approach to Understanding Red King Crab Larval Drift in Bristol Bay, Alaska
    Conference:  Alaska Marine Science Symposium, Anchorage, AK, Jan 2016
    (2016 poster, .pdf, 1.28 MB)   Online.


See the poster and publications databases for additional listings.


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