Southeast crabbers wrapped up an “average” Dungeness season for a two and a half month summer fishery that wrapped up in mid-August.
Preliminary numbers indicate the catch came in at half of last summer’s level. Adam Messmer is the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game’s assistant manager for the region.
“We ended up just over 3 million pounds for the season, which is right around our 10 year average. Last year was our second biggest year ever. We were kind of expecting a little bit more than what we caught this year. But we had a quite a bit of soft shell crab at the beginning of the season. That accounts for the missed poundage.”
Last summer’s Dungie catch came in at six million pounds valued at nearly $10 million at the docks.
But despite a lower catch, this season’s price made the harvest worth much more to the fleet of 205 permit holders.
“Yep, it was our highest price ever was average $4.27. And that came out to almost a $13 million fishery. So that’s about $63,000 per permit.”
Last year’s summer price was just $1.67 per pound.
Southeast crabbers get another go when the Dungeness fishery reopens on October 1. Messmer says he’s hopeful more crab shells have hardened up.
“It’s hard to tell. We’ve been averaging right around a million pounds every fall; the effort is not as high. weather’s not as great. But we’re kind of hopeful that a lot of those softshell crabs made it through. The buyers don’t buy the soft shell, everybody is throwing them back. And there was a lot of soft shell crabs out there to harden up. And our hope is that there’s going to be a decent amount of legal crab around in the fall.”
Dropping pots for Dungeness is ongoing around Kodiak and the Westward region until the end of October.
Around 1.5 million pounds is likely to be the tally for 20 Kodiak boats, down about one million from last year. But the outlook is fairly optimistic says Nat Nichols, area manager for ADF&G.
“Here in Kodiak that makes three seasons in a row of over a million pounds. And I’ve heard some reports that there’s a lot of measuring of crab out there and there’s a lot of crab that are just a little bit short of the stick. So that sort of gives optimism for next year.”
The Kodiak price is $4.35 a pound on average.
Nichols says over 415,000 pounds of Dungies have been hauled up at Chignik and Alaska Peninsula fishermen are having the region’s best catches, now at 1.3 million pounds.
The outlook also is good for Westward region Tanner crab. We’ll have more on that next week.