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Shellfish Assessment Program - Survey & Assessment: Current Research


Stocks that NOAA Fisheries are responsible for assessing are covered by the Bering Sea/Aleution Islands King and Tanner Crab Fishery Management Plan NPFMC 2011.


Annual Eastern Bering Sea Crab/Groundfish Survey

Photo of a hair crab, Erimacrus isenbeckii
Hair crab, Erimacrus isenbeckii

The NOAA Fisheries (NMFS) conducts an annual trawl survey in the eastern Bering Sea (EBS) to determine the distribution and abundance of crab and groundfish resources.

Crabs surveyed include southern Tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi), snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio), two stocks of blue king crab (Paralithodes platypus), red king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus) and hair crab (Erimacrus isenbeckii).

These surveys are conducted in three legs throughout the summer with two vessels dedicated to each leg. The EBS survey is augmented every year by the addition of special projects.

The cumulative data collected during each annual survey help fisheries managers regulate commercial crab fishing activities. An annual report (Technical Memorandum) is prepared from the data: The 2016 Eastern Bering Sea Continental Shelf Bottom Trawl Survey: Results for Commercial Crab Species. (.pdf, 26 MB)

Photo of trawler used for NOAA Fisheries research

The annual report is prepared from the data collected and plan team meetings are held to discuss the stock assessment and fishery management plans.

Contributors include:

Evaluation reports are drafted for each fishery management plan.


The Interactive Data Map is a tool to view commercially important crab species from 1975. This map represents the catch per unit effort from eastern Bering Sea shelf bottom trawl surveys.


Photo of Eastern Bering Sea Crab Survey 
			Map. Click image to link to map.
Eastern Bering Sea Crab Survey Map. Click to open.


Small-Mesh Nearshore Gulf of Alaska Trawl Survey

Photo of a Alaska Department of Fish and Game Vessel

This survey has been conducted with standard methods since 1972 by staff from the Shellfish Assessment Program in collaboration with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and is the longest continuous annual survey of its type in the North Pacific.

This time series has been instrumental in describing ecological change in the Gulf of Alaska following the 1976 climate regime shift in the North Pacific and in describing ecological response to more recent climate change.



Crab Ecosystem Indicator Development

Example report card for Bristol Bay red
				king crab. Arrows to the left of each indicator indicates how the mean of the previous five years
				compares to the long-term average and how the previous five years are trending. Click image to 
				enlarge.
Example report card for Bristol Bay red king crab. Arrows to the left of each indicator indicates how the mean of the previous five years compares to the long-term average and how the previous five years are trending. Click image to enlarge.

The Shellfish Assessment Program is developing stock-specific ecosystem indicators for commercially important eastern Bering Sea crab species.

The indicators are meant to provide detailed information and updates on the status of the ecosystem components for each crab stock. The indicators are also meant to provide early signals that might warrant management intervention.

Each crab stock will have a set of spatially explicit indicators summarized in the form of a "report card", which will be updated annually with survey data.

The goal of report card development is to help guide stock assessment models to better estimate crab population trends.

Stock-specific report cards and general description of each ecosystem indicator will be included as part of future annual Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation Reports compiled by the North Pacific Fisheries Management Councils Crab Plan Team.







Shellfish Assessment Program - Survey & Assessment PAST RESEARCH



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