Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and the Oweekeno Nation (ON) have undertaken a cooperative assessment of inshore Tanner crab, Chionoecetes bairdi, in support of developing a fishery for this species in Rivers Inlet, British Columbia (B.C.). This paper presents information regarding distribution, relative abundance, and biological characteristics of C. bairdi in Rivers Inlet. The results from exploratory trap and trawl surveys and a mark-recapture program carried out between January 2004 through March 2005 by DFO and the ON are presented. Trawling proved unsuccessful at capturing Tanner crabs. C. bairdi were found distributed throughout Rivers Inlet (except Fitz Hugh Sound), but were not overly abundant. Some areas supported more Tanner crabs than others; crabs were more abundant in Draney Inlet and Darby Channel. C. bairdi were found at depths ranging from 36–340 m with greatest abundance of males at 50–150 m and females at 100–200 m. Male C. bairdi ranged in size from 4–137 mm carapace width (CW). The mean size of 50% maturity is 94 mm CW for males and 81 mm CW for females. A twenty-percent growth rate was estimated for mature males. Our data show a small proportion of mature males molt throughout the year with a molt event possibly taking place in the spring or summer. Breeding in Rivers Inlet might occur in the fall with an egg-release period in the spring. Natural mortality (M) for male Tanner crabs was estimated two ways to be 0.69 and 1.12. Tagging showed that Tanner crab movements ranged between 39 and 4,592 m over a period of 7–422 days. Tanner crabs did not move between major areas within Rivers Inlet. The relatively small size of C. bairdi found in Rivers Inlet compared with those in Alaska, and the lack of significant abundance of legal male Tanner crabs, raises doubt whether a fishery for C. bairdi in Rivers Inlet would be economically viable.
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