Prices for all crab continue to soar and that bodes well for Dungeness crab fisheries at Southeast Alaska and Kodiak, areas that last year saw big catches.
Kodiak’s fishery opened on May 1 and so far 68,358 pounds have been landed by just eight boats, compared to 29 last year. The Kodiak price this season was reported at $4.25 a pound for the crab that weigh just over two pounds on average. That compares to a 2020 price of $1.85 for a catch of nearly 3 million pounds, the highest in 30 years.
The pulls are skimpy though, averaging just two crab per pot. Kodiak’s dungies are very cyclical and the fishery could be tapping out the tail end of a peak, said Nat Nichols, area manager for the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game at Kodiak. This summer will tell the tale.
“We’ve got 50 to 60 years of history to look at and in the past these peaks and harvest have lasted three years, something like that, and then we kind of go down until we get another big group of crab coming through. So, this could be that we’re kind of coming to the end of this peak.
Southeast crabbers dropped pots for the summer Dungeness fishery on June 15. That fishery could see 190 or more permit holders on the grounds. Crabbers won’t know until month’s end how much they can pull up until managers assess catch and effort information.
Early reports peg the Southeast Dungeness price to fishermen at over $4/pound.
Southeast crabbers averaged just $1.72 per pound last season, down by more than a dollar.
Last season’s combined summer and fall fisheries produced nearly 6.7 million pounds, just shy of the Dungeness record of 7.3 million pounds set in 2002 and more than double the 10 year average.
Elsewhere, California crabbers fetched record prices for their Dungeness crab in a fishery that saw low landings and a shortened season that ran from January 11 through early May.
The fleet of 359 crabbers fetched $6.02 per pound for a catch of just 3.6 million pounds, down 10 million pounds from the previous year. The value of this year’s fishery was $18.7 million, down from nearly $46 million in 2020.