March 6, 2017 — Crabbers are hauling back pots from the Alaska Panhandle to the Bering Sea, and reduced catches are resulting in record prices.
The year’s first red king crab fishery at Norton Sound has yielded 17,000 pounds so far of its nearly 40,000 pound winter quota for more than 50 local fishermen. The crab, taken through the ice near Nome, are paying a record $7.75 a pound. A summer opener will produce a combined catch of nearly half a million pounds for the region.
Red king crab from Bristol Bay also yielded the highest price ever for fishermen, averaging $10.89 per pound. That catch quota of 8 million pounds is down 15 percent from last season.
The Bering Sea snow crab fleet has taken 80 percent of its 19 million pound quota, about half of last year’s. That’s pushed market prices through the roof, topping $8.30 a pound at wholesale in both the U.S. and Japan, up 50 percent from last year.
Alaska produces only about 10 percent of the world’s snow crab, with most of the supply coming from eastern Canada, followed by Russia.