Fish Radio
King crab goes fast, high prices expected
November 17, 2016

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – It’s a wrap for red king crab at Bristol Bay. More after this –

Pods of young king crab Credit:  NOAA

Pods of young king crab
Credit: NOAA

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It was fast and furious for Alaska’s premiere red king crab fishery with the fleet catching the nearly eight-million pound quota at Bristol Bay in less than three weeks. The hauls  averaged more than 37  red kings per pot, compared to 32  last year.  Some boats were catching 60 to 70 crab per pot, even as the fishery was coming to a close.

“It was quite good for all the boats in our fleet. Everyone had much better fishing than we were anticipating because of the reduced quota.”

Tom Suryan skippers  the Bristol Mariner. The crab quota was down 15 percent from last year although crabbers say the stock appears more abundant than they’ve seen in years.  They believe the crabs are being missed by standardized summer surveys.  Still, Suryan told KDLG the king crab were big and beautiful. Tom Suryan –

“The crab were big, in the upper six pound range to as much as seven pounds per crab on average. And the shell condition was really good. We didn’t see old shell crab that’s marked up or barnacle ridden – that’s more of a marketing concern; it doesn’t affect the meat quality.” 

The crab will likely fetch record prices when all the sales are made. Crabbers fetched an average price of $8.18 per pound for their king crab last year; the highest price was $10.84 in 2011.  The bulk of the king crab will be sold in Japan based on the number of frozen leg clusters in a 10 pound box. Brokers are selling those at $20.15 per pound, up 19 percent, according to  Crabbers are paid on a live, whole crab basis.

In all, Captain Suryan says it was a good  season.

Catch rate was high so that reduces are costs and we use less bait and fuel. The market is quite strong   so we are getting a record price for the crab. We didn’t have the crab on the boats long so our dead loss was reduced, meaning the ones you lose between the time you catch them and offload which has no value to the boat, so the less of that, the better. 

Many of the Bering Sea crab boats will turn to pot cod and target snow crab in mid-January. Find all the crab catches at our website

Catch the line up at Pacific Marine Expo, going on now in Seattle.

Thanks to the assist from KDLG/Dillingham.

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. ( In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.