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Two major advocates for the commercial crab industry plan to complete a merger 31 December, with the Alaska Crab Coalition closing its doors to merge with the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers.

The merger came together based on the idea that all independent Bering Sea and Aleutian Island crab harvesters need to speak with a unified voice, said Mark Gleason, executive director of ABSC, in Seattle.

Seven years ago, when the crab cooperatives were formed, after passage of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands crab rationalization plan, it was inconceivable that virtually all the independent crabbers would come together under one umbrella political organization, said Arni Thomson, executive director of ACC. Crabbers now have the opportunity to become much more effective," said Thomson, who is also president of United Fishermen of Alaska. "The ACC has been working toward this merger during most of the year."

Several members of the ACC board of directors also serve on the ABSC board.

Thomson, who moved to Anchorage from the Seattle area more than two years ago, will for the interim be doing consulting services for ABSC in Alaska.

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