Fishermen rejoice as crab fishery safeguard made permanent

10 Aug 2017
Senator Cantwell said that by preserving the Tri-State Agreement, the Dungeness crab fishery can be managed sustainably

Senator Cantwell said that by preserving the Tri-State Agreement, the Dungeness crab fishery can be managed sustainably

American fishermen are celebrating the news that a decade-long management agreement to safeguard a major US crab fishery has been made permanent.

Crab fisheries in the Pacific Northwest faced an uncertain future without the bill put forward by US Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), which seeks to strengthen Washington DC’s Dungeness crab fishery.

“The Dungeness crab fishery is an economic pillar of our coastal communities, supporting thousands of fishing and processing jobs,” Senator Cantwell said. “By preserving the Tri-State Agreement, we can sustainably manage our crab fisheries for many years.”

The states of Washington, Oregon, and California cooperatively manage the West Coast crab fishery in federal waters under a tri-state agreement that Congress first authorised in 1998.

But the agreement expired without a replacement in 2016. The new act will make this authority permanent reintroducing stability and preserving a sustainable, science-based fishery management programme that keeps fishermen fishing and crab stocks thriving.

Washington state’s Dungeness crab industry brings US$61 million into the state’s economy annually. Crab fishermen in the state harvest an average of 9.5 million pounds of crab per year, supporting more than 60,000 maritime jobs.

But crab populations vary greatly by year, depending on food availability and ocean conditions. The Dungeness crab catch tends to peak every ten years and can fluctuate by tens of millions of pounds between years.

In order to manage the fishery appropriately, managers must coordinate between states to ensure management and conservation goals are achieved.