Fish Radio
Crab markets cranking!
April 15, 2016

Snow crab in the Bering Sea Credit: csmphotos.com

Snow crab in the Bering Sea
Credit: csmphotos.com

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Alaska crab markets are cranking! I’ll tell you more after this –

The Alaska Marine Safety Education Association offers free ergonomics training to seafood processing workers and fishermen to reduce injuries and increase productivity. Visit www.amsea.org  to schedule a training at your plant or vessel.

Federal grants are available to help “Made in America” companies compete with imports and save US jobs. Learn more at www.nwtaac.org.

Only a handful of boats are still out hauling crab pots from the Bering Sea and they can be sure of a good price for their catch.

It’s just been a really good year for crab all around.

Jake Jacobsen is a four decade fishing veteran  and director of the Inter-Cooperative Exchange, a harvester group that catches 70 percent of the Bering Sea crab quota. Right now the boats are finishing off the Tanner and snow crab shares.

We haven’t even started the final prices for snow crab yet. We started out with an advance of $2.00 a pound but that really doesn’t mean anything. The advance price is just a number we throw out there so the fishermen have some money to pay their expenses as they go along.  

That’s a nice advance since last year’s average snow crab price for fishermen was $2.04. Jacobsen says snow crab prices for buyers started to climb significantly last fall when the quota was slashed 40 percent to just over 40 million pounds.

It is a much more favorable market this year so we do negotiate a higher price on the final but that won’t take place for a few months.

The snow crab market is split between Japan and the US. Jacobsen says by far most of the snow crab seen on the US market comes from the largest producer – Eastern Canada. Alaska provides only about 10 percent of the world snow crab market.

Bairdi Tanners are the larger cousin of snow crab and brought Alaska crabbers an even higher advance.

Our fishing price for bairdi was $2.20 and we expect to see a substantial increase when we complete negotiations for final prices.

Bering Sea bairdi stocks are on a steady upswing with a catch nearing 20 million pounds. Most of those Tanners are going into the US market, where it’s really starting to catch on.

We’re really excited about it. We’d like things to go to the domestic side so our countrymen can appreciate the crab. It’s just such a great flavor of crab.

The red king crab fishery at Bristol Bay also yielded a better pay day. Crabbers averaged $8.18 a pound for last fall’s catch, compared to $6.86 the previous year. Jacobsen credits the crackdown on pirate catches.

So it was a substantial increase over last year and primarily that was due to the crackdown on illegal fishing in Russia which resulted in a reduced influx of Russian crab into the US. So as supplies diminished the price rose and it became a very favorable market for us. It’s been a long effort and it’s very satisfying to see some payoff.

Jacobsen says while crabbers are concerned about some Alaska stocks, market trends look good for the future.

We’re always concerned about the stock what the warmer water is doing to the stocks and the general ecology and how that affects our TAC, but we are pretty upbeat about the market.

Find Alaska crab catches  at our website  www.alaskafishradio.com

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. (www.oceanbeauty.com) In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.   

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