Fall/Winter Distribution of Legal Red King Crab in Bristol Bay using Daily Fishing Logs

Spatial distribution of fisheries species must be well characterized in order to avoid local depletions during fishing seasons and to identify closure areas that minimize bycatch in other fisheries. The Bristol Bay red king crab (BBRKC) fishery is one of the largest crab fisheries in Alaska. One important component of BBRKC management is the existence of no-trawl zones, which protect crabs from trawl fisheries.  Recently there has been concern that these no-trawl zones are in the wrong locations and are not sufficiently protecting king crabs. However, these concerns are difficult to evaluate because the survey that measures crab abundance and distribution occurs during the summer, while crab bycatch in trawl fisheries primarily occurs in winter.  Daily fishing logs (DFLs), kept by skippers in the king crab fleet since 2005, contain detailed information on the spatial distribution of catch and effort in the fall/winter; however, the data within these hand-written logbooks has not been readily accessible.  We are digitizing DFLs and using catch per unit effort (cpue) to elucidate fall/winter distributions of BBRKC.  This should aid managers in evaluating whether current locations of no-trawl zones are effective in protecting BBRKC.  These data also allow for the comparison of crab distributions between years and seasons, furthering our understanding of crab movement, especially under different temperature regimes.  DFL data will help us understand if and how no-trawl zones should shift as the climate changes in the North Pacific.