07/08/2013 02:28 EDT | Updated 09/07/2013 05:12 EDT

Northern B.C. crab fishermen pinched by closure, claw back cash for surveys

PRINCE RUPERT, B.C. - Crab fishermen on B.C.'s North Coast are pinching off the cash spent by their association on expensive surveys to monitor the health of Dungeness crab stocks.

Fishermen are furious about what they say is an arbitrary decision by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to close the Dungeness fishery on the North Coast.

The Area A Crab Association says it spends more than $100,000 annually on scientific surveys to determine if crabs can be harvested or if the crustaceans are in a sensitive part of their growth cycle, moulting their shells.

Association officials say crab fishermen are proud of the strict monitoring and rigorous science linked to the surveys, but the studies will be suspended because DFO has chosen to ignore or misinterpret the data.

Fishermen blockaded the DFO office in Prince Rupert last week to protest the closure.

A Fisheries spokesman said last week that the test traps kept coming back as inconclusive, so they closed the fishery as a precaution.