August 28 2014

This is Fish Radio. I’m Stephanie Mangini. There’s a new crab in town. I’ll tell you more after this…

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A fairly new species, the Hanasaki King Crab, also known as a spiny king crab is joining the shellfish family. It has a boxier physique and carries with it a much spikier outer shell. Wes Jones is the Norton Sound Research Fisheries Director; He says it’s one tuff crab.

“It’s in the same group of king crabs as red king crab. In general I think it is a little bit smaller than red king crab, but it has a lot more spines, and its big claws are much bigger compared to the body size. To me it looks like a king crab that is ready to fight.”

Though tougher to crack into, Jones says a local gave the crab two thumbs up for taste.

“The people I have talked to out on St. Lawrence Island think they are very good crab. I was talking to one young man and when he saw the Hanasaki he was like, “Oh those taste so good, they are so much sweeter, and they make my mouth water just thinking about it.”

Within the past six years the reports of the crab have grown so much in the Norton Sound region that Hanasaki is now being managed under the same rules as its king crab cousins.

“Since about 2008 till currently, there has been reports now of them being caught incidentally in the summer Norton Sound red king crab fishery, and then also off of the coast of Nome, there has been several catches of Hanasaki king crab reported in the winter subsistence harvest and the winter commercial harvest.  So it appears they are moving east into Norton Sound.”

Most of the data they have on the crab is either Japanese or Russian. Jones says that there is still a lot to be learned about the species.  Fish and Game will be ramping up surveys and other stock assessments in the near future. Who knows spiny could be holding its own along with the other Alaskan crab fisheries.

Ocean Beauty has contributed over 10 million meals to the U.S. Food Bank network, and is committed to ending hunger in America.    In Kodiak, Stephanie Mangini.