Seminar Details

Application of crustacean endocrinology to the management of snow and Tanner crab in Alaska




Prof. Sherry Tamone, University of Alaska Southeast


Chionoecetes crabs include Tanner and snow crabs and comprise an important commercial fishery in Alaska. Only males of a specific size and visual condition are harvested from the Bering Sea from January through March. Because crabs are required to molt in order to increase in size and because we know hormones are responsible for regulating growth, crustacean endocrinology is an important tool for understanding the life history (growth, maturity and reproduction) of crabs. Using endocrine techniques, we have established that Chionoecetes crabs undergo a terminal molt after which they are no longer capable of growing. We are also measuring hormones associated with reproduction to show that reproduction and growth are processes that are energetically competitive; thus crabs that are preparing to molt are not reproductively competitive. The implications of these studies are that crabs that are harvested during the Bering Sea fishery have not had the opportunity to mate and that sublegal males returned to the oceans as bycatch have a disproportional contribution to the gene pool. Management of crabs for a sustainable fishery will need to take these findings into consideration.

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