In a major blow to America’s seafood industry, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has, for the first time in state history, canceled the winter snow crab season in the Bering Sea due to their falling numbers. While restaurant menus will suffer, scientists worry what the sudden population plunge means for the health of the Arctic ecosystem.
An estimated one billion crabs have mysteriously disappeared in two years, state officials said. It marks a 90% drop in their population.
“Did they run up north to get that colder water?” asked Gabriel Prout, whose Kodiak Island fishing business relies heavily on the snow crab population. “Did they completely cross the border? Did they walk off the continental shelf on the edge there, over the Bering Sea?”
Ben Daly, a researcher with ADF&G, is investigating where the crabs have gone. He monitors the health of the state’s fisheries, which produce 60% of the nation’s seafood.
“Disease is one possibility,” Daly reporters.
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