Fish Radio

August 15, 2014

Golden king crab Credit: afsc.noaa.gov

Golden king crab
Credit: afsc.noaa.gov

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Alaska’s best Dungeness crab season ever closes, and Aleutian gold gets underway. More on fall crab fisheries after this –

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The last pots are being pulled today in Southeast Alaska for the end of the summer Dungeness crab fishery. It’s been the best season ever with a total catch for the year pegged at nearly 6.5 million pounds. That makes for a nice pay day for 150 crabbers who averaged about $3 a pound, up 50 cents from last year.                               

Dungeness crab Credit: pacseafood.com

Dungeness crab
Credit: pacseafood.com

Likewise for Oregon crabbers. Oregon is the nation’s leader for dungie deliveries and that fishery closed this week as well. The catch appears to be below average at under 14.5 million pounds, but the dockside value of nearly $50 million is the highest on record. Seafood.com’ s John Sackton said that the huge growth of live exports has fueled the dungie market, especially in a year with overall lower volume.  

Alaska’s most far flung crab fishery gets underway today: golden king crab along the Aleutian Islands. It’s the state’s most stable crab fishery with a conservative harvest each year capped at just over 6 million pounds. The crabbers believe the catch could be higher but there’s been few stock surveys due to distance. Now they are working with managers to undertake the biggest survey ever done on the entire range of the golden crab stock – an 800 mile span from Dutch Harbor to Atka.

It is exciting. I think for the first time w will have a good idea of the size of the population, the age and sex structure of the population and the distribution and how deep they go and what proportion of the population occurs at different depths. So it will be a major improvement in our knowledge of golden king crab.

John Hilsinger is science advisor for the Aleutian King Crab Research Foundation, a harvester group.

It will be several years before the data yields results – but experts believe Aleutian goldens could soon overtake Bristol Bay as Alaska’s largest king crab fishery.

Meanwhile, Bering Sea crabbers will know next month what the catch quotas will be for king crab and Bering Sea snow crab. Both of those big fisheries get underway in mid-October. And Southeast crabbers will be back out on the water for the fall Dungeness season which reopens October 1.

The summer dungie fishery closes August 15 and reopens October 1.

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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