I

170e

160'

Fig. 2.5 Schematic of long-term mean circulation (a) in the eastern Bering Sea and (b) in the Gulf of Alaska. The Kenai Current is also known as the Alaska Coastal Current. (From Schumacher & Reed, 1983.)

Fig. 2.5 Schematic of long-term mean circulation (a) in the eastern Bering Sea and (b) in the Gulf of Alaska. The Kenai Current is also known as the Alaska Coastal Current. (From Schumacher & Reed, 1983.)

smaller (Alaska-limit boats were 58 ft - 17.7 m) and included some ex-sardine seiners (refugees from the collapsed California sardine fishery). In 1965, of 190 vessels in the fishery, 120 were less than 60 ft (18.3 m).

While the Bering Sea was the site of the first development of significant crab fisheries, attention was soon redirected to the waters around Kodiak where Wakefield had pioneered and, prior to 1969, the Kodiak fishery dominated the harvest. However, after a widespread decline in abundance in 1970, the major fishery returned to the eastern Bering Sea where it has remained.

The Japanese, using tangle-nets, returned to the Bering Sea in 1953 where they dominated crab catches until 1970. From 1959 through 1971, a similar Soviet fishery operated. These foreign operations were affected by the Law of the Sea Convention of 1958, where the coastal state gained jurisdiction over resources of the continental shelf, including "organisms which, at the harvestable stage ... are unable to move except in constant physical contact with the sea bed or the subsoil."

While the US and the USSR were parties to the Convention, Japan was not and, in any case, considered that crabs were living resources of the high seas rather than creatures of the shelf (Miles et al., 1982). A series of bilateral agreements with Japan and the USSR permitted some control over catches and, with the 1977 extensions of national jurisdiction over fisheries resulting from general acceptance of the living resource provisions eventually incorporated in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, foreign fishing in the US zone was no longer permitted.

The use of nets is now outlawed (tangle-nets since 1954 and trawls from the mid-1960s) because they were so destructive to illegals (females and immature males). The fishery has since been carried out with pots (traps); modern pots are 7-8 ft2 (0.7 m2), 30-36 inches (76 91 cm) deep and weigh 300-800 lbs (136-360 kg) (with crab, they can weigh as much as 1,500 lbs - 680 kg). In order to prevent continued fishing when the pots are lost, pots contain a degradable panel intended to terminate catching and holding ability within six months. When the pot is aboard, females and sublegal males are returned to the sea. Crab are transported to processors in live tanks which exchange water every 20-30 minutes. Water and crab sloshing in these tanks can cause severe stability problems, as do the heavy loads of pots carried on deck.

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