Population assessment of snow crab, Chionoecetes opilio, in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas including oil and gas lease area

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Population Assessment of Snow Crab, Chionoecetes opilio, in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas including Oil and Gas Lease Areas

Bodil A Bluhm , Katrin Iken, School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Project duration: July 2011-November 2014

The snow crab, Chionoecetes opilio, is a widely distributed and abundant epibenthic species on the Bering and Chukchi Sea shelves, and occurs at least into the western Beaufort Sea. Because of the commercial crab harvest in the Bering Sea, the stock in that area is regularly surveyed (http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/Kodiak/shellfish/crabEBS/crabsurvey.htm) and reasonably well known. In contrast, knowledge about snow crab in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas is limited to patchy abundance and biomass estimates and some aspects of the reproductive biology.

The recent northward contraction of snow crab in the Bering Sea, the assumed biomass increase in the Chukchi Sea, and the increased interest in the Chukchi Sea for oil and gas-related exploration activities motivated this study.

Our specific objectives are (1) to estimate abundance and biomass distribution of snow crab in the Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Seas, (2) to determine stock structure and reproductive potential, (3) to identify diet and trophic position, and (4) to compare our findings to the few available earlier studies in the study area. The material for this study was/will be collected during four cruises to the Chukchi Sea (2009, two in 2010, 2012), and four cruises to the Beaufort Sea (2008, 2011, 2012, 2013).

The material presented on this web page is based upon work supported the Coastal Marine Institute, MESAS, BOEM, and NOAA. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funding bodies.

page modified 14-Feb-2013 For use of the pictures on the webpages of this CMI funded project request permission from Bluhm.