The Bristol Bay red king crab fishery wrapped up after about five weeks and by all accounts it was a rather slow and uneventful season.
“From what we saw during the fishery was that the fishermen were seeing about what we expected from the survey, with a little bit slower fishing and with pockets of crab without a real wide distribution for the stock. So it was about as we expected.”
Miranda Westphal is area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Dutch Harbor.
The red king crab catch quota this year of 6.6 million pounds was down 22 percent from last season, and the lowest catch since 1996.
Although other Bering Sea crab fisheries also have been underway since mid-October, Harvesters always scramble to catch the red kings first in order to get the crab to Japan for the holiday sales season.
The crab was “big and nice” said Jake Jacobsen, director of the Inter-Cooperative Exchange, a harvester group that catches 70 percent of the Bering Sea crab quota.
No word yet on price and Jacobsen said negotiations will likely be finished around mid-January. Red king crab averaged $10.89 per pound last year, the highest price ever. Jacobsen said the price is likely to be lower this year.
Fishing continues for snow crab and Tanners, although Westphal says for now it’s slow going.
“Most of the folks are taking a break for the holidays and will be back to fish Bering Sea tanner and Bering Sea snow crab. So right now it’s just a little bit of lull in the action.”
Crabbers can haul up 2.5 million pounds of Tanner crab for the 2017/2018 season and 19 million pounds of snow crab, the lowest level since 2005. Those fisheries remain open through March.
Overall, the Bering Sea crab catches for this year declined by 47 percent.
Find links to the crab catches and more at our website www.alaskafishradio.com and on Facebook.
Thanks to the assist from KDLG in Dillingham.