- NOAA Fisheries, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game manage the Alaska snow crab fishery.
- Managed under the Fishery Management Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs, which defers management of crab fisheries to the State of Alaska with federal oversight. State regulations must comply with the fishery management plan, the national standards of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable federal laws:
- The Alaska snow crab fishery is currently managed according to the “three S’s” – size, sex, and season. Only male crabs of a certain size may be harvested, and fishing is not allowed during mating and molting periods. These measures help ensure that crabs are able to reproduce and replace the ones that are harvested.
- Every year, managers set the harvest limit for the next fishing season using the most recent estimates of crab abundance.
- Managers allocate shares of the harvest among harvesters, processors, and coastal communities through the crab rationalization program, which was implemented in 2005 to address economic, safety, and environmental issues in the fishery. This program includes a community development quota, which protects community interests by allowing community groups 10 percent of the harvest. They’re given the opportunity to purchase shares in the fishery before the shares are offered for sale outside the community.
- Vessels carry vessel monitoring systems (satellite communications systems used to monitor fishing activities) and must report their landings electronically.
- Fishermen must install escape panels and rings on their pots to prevent ghost fishing (when lost pots continue to capture and kill species) and to reduce bycatch.
- Managers monitor catch in real time and are able to close the fishery when the harvest limit is reached.
Observers are required on 20 percent of the vessels in the fishery. They collect data on catch and bycatch and document any violations of fishing regulations.