Fish Radio
 December 31, 2013                   

Bering Sea crab fishing Credit: alaskadispatch

Bering Sea crab fishing
Credit: alaskadispatch

 This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch … Crab updates and world currencies. More after this –

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Southeast crabbers ended one of their best fall Dungeness fisheries ever and a few did hards are still on the grounds around Sitka and Ketchikan. 

“The fall season looked pretty good compared to past seasons. We came in at right at a million pounds for the fall season.

 Adam Messmer is Fish and Game’s assistant shellfish manager for Southeast.

The last two years the catch has come in at half that. Messmer says less gear was on the grounds with 87 permits fishing. The price averaged $2.53 a pound, similar to last year, bringing the value of the   catch to more than $2.5 million. Southeast’s total  Dungy  harvest this year is at 2.6 million pounds, well above what was expected.

 Switching to the Bering Sea – snow crab pots are being dropped earlier than usual. The fishery traditionally gets going in mid-January. Two reasons:  crabbers want to avoid getting closed out by sea ice – and strong demand for less crab is pushing the highest prices ever.     No final word on  prices at the dock, but contract prices to Japan were reported at $5.50 to $5.60 for smaller sizes and $6.10 for large crab. Alaska’s total catch is 54 million pounds, down 20 percent. So far nine percent of the snow crab harvest has been landed at St. Paul.  

  It looks to be a tough year for seafood traders tied to foreign currencies, cautions’s  John Sackton.  The expected growth of the US economy and strong dollar make our seafood more expensive for overseas buyers facing weaker currencies.  That could mean more sales here at home. As the US dollar strengthens, Sackton says, it will be a moderating influence on domestic seafood prices. 

 We’ll look at the currencies of Alaska’s biggest customers later this week.   

Some currencies at a glance: 

 The  Yen is at 105Y per dollar, the highest since 2008. Japan wants to weaken its value to boost its exports.

The Euro is trading at a two year high against the dollar but is expected to weaken.  The Chinese Yuan is trading at a 20 year high against the dollar making imports more expensive.

The Canadian dollar has weakened about 6% and  is expected to drop to about 90 cents against the US dollar later this year.

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods, an Alaska corporation proudly supporting Alaska’s coastal communities and the Alaskans who depend on fishing for their livelihoods and culture.    In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.