Bristol Bay Red King Crab Update

With quotas down by 47 percent and prices skyrocketing to $20 a pound delivered in Japan, this year’s Bristol Bay red king crab fishery is attracting a lot of attention.

The fishery began on Oct. 15, and by Nov. 1, 82 percent of the total allowable harvest of 7.8 million pounds had been landed. That’s 7,050,600 pounds to the individual fishing quota permit holders, plus another 783,400 pounds for community development quota entities.

State fisheries officials said 62 vessels were participating, down three from a year ago.

Prominent crab buyer Rob George of the Law Vegas-based Crab Broker, said this year’s fishery reminds him a bit of the old pre-crab rationalization legislation derby days.

George, who makes an annual foray to Dutch Harbor to watch the crab come in, said most of the boats were on the crab, and several reached their quota quickly.

George noted that there is no cheap crab on the market right now and that most consumers will have to look hard to find any true Alaska king crab in their stores.

Some harvesters, like Kodiak’s Mark Israelson of the fishing vessel Island Mist questioned survey results that led to the harvest quota being slashed by 47 percent this season. George said a lot of skippers and crews told him that they were finding an abundance of crab, plus a lot of undersized crab, which were promptly returned to the ocean. That should bode well for the 2012-2013 season, he said.

But Regnart said his agency was doing the best job they can with the money they have to do it with.