After Delayed Start, Red King Crab Fishery Went Smoothly

All worries are history now after a delayed start for the
bulk of the Bristol Bay red king crab fishery, with a lot more crab caught in a
shorter period of time than in other years.
That was the report Nov. 11 from Jake Jacobsen of the
Inter-Cooperative Exchange in Seattle, who said that 96 percent of the
allowable harvest for individual fishing quota permit holders had been landed. Jacobsen
said that of the 7,740,000 pound IFQ allocation only 336,682 pounds of the red
king crab remained to be harvested.
“It’s going really fast,” Jacobsen said.
As for the weather, it’s not very good at this time of year,
and there have been gale warnings, he said.
By this time a year ago, 95 percent of the quota was caught,
but last year the fishery started on schedule on Oct. 15. This year harvesters
under the community development quota program were able to begin harvesting on
Oct. 15, but the IFQ holders were tied to the dock until Oct. 19, because of a
partial federal government shutdown that delayed issuance of their permits.
This season’s total allowable catch, set by the Alaska
Department of Fish and Game, is 7,853,000 pounds, including 7,067,700 pounds
for IFQ holders and 785,300 pounds for community development quota harvesters.
Negotiations on final prices to harvesters haven’t even
begun yet.
That’s usually done about Jan. 20, said Jacobsen. “In the
old derby style fishery, we set a price and they went fishing, and now we set
the price at the end,” he said. “We have a very complex arbitration system and
a lot of rules and regulations we adhere to. It’s a whole new world from what
it used to be.”
In the popular retail markets like the world famous Pike
Place Fish Market on the Seattle waterfront and 10th and M Seafoods in
Anchorage, orders were coming in steadily from Bristol Bay red king crab
aficionados and other holiday shoppers.
Pike Place Fish Market (
was posting $39.99 a pound for frozen Alaska king crab legs, plus $65 for
shipping up to 12 pounds of those crab legs overnight, anywhere in the
continental United States. Fresh crab, when available, was fetching $44.99 a

A fishmonger answering the phone in Seattle for online
orders said he taken 20 shipping orders that day by mid-afternoon, and he was
one of 10 employees taking orders from online customers. Meanwhile, customers
in line at the marketplace ranged from one woman purchasing a pound for her
evening meal to another customer planning a crab dinner for a dozen guests, he