The Coast Guard rescued 11 fishermen from two different vessles in less than 24 hours in extreme weather conditions Wednesday, January 24th including the FV Kimberly pictured above. The entire of state of Alaska has been experiencing brutal weather conditions this winter. From record snowfalls in Valdez and Cordova to growing sea ice in the Bering Sea. Now, the Deadliest Catch fleet is threatened by the approaching ice pack.
According to the Anchorage Daily News, “Sea ice is encroaching unusually early on the central Bering Sea, threatening to grind Alaska’s economically important snow crab fishery to a halt at the peak of the season, leaving crabbers facing major losses.
Earlier-than-expected ice is moving south over prime crabbing grounds, forcing boats away from their catch and putting millions of dollars of equipment in jeopardy.
These kind of “mother nature effects” are part of the fishing business everywhere, said Karen Gillis, the executive director of the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association.
But this fishery, which was expected to net 80 million pounds this year, hasn’t seen a natural event like this in 20 years, she said, and it could have a devastating economic impact on crabbers and their families.” Read much more on the story here.
According to Channel 2 news in Anchorage, “The NWS is fielding dozens of phone calls a day from crab fishermen, who are looking for an update on where the sea ice is at.
“Most people are picking their pots up and getting them out of harm’s way,” said Jim Stone, president of Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers.
Crab pots can cost over $1,000.
This year’s quota is 90 million pounds, which is a lot more than previous years.
Mid-January is the peak of the snow crab season in Alaska, but it opens in mid-October, and ends May 31.
Fishermen plan on waiting out the weather at local ports.
“A lot of wait and see, and realizing that things can change at any time,” Heather Fitch, the Dutch Harbor area biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said.” Watch a video newscast of the story here.
Apparently, a person walking the docks in St. Paul Harbor looking for a deckhand job captured this video of the FV Northwestern entering the harbor recently.