Low Price Prompts Kodiak District Crabbers to Stand Down from Tanner Crab Fishery

A Tanner crab. File photo.

Harvesters standing down from Tanner crab fisheries because of a $2.50 a pound offer from Kodiak processors say the earliest they could go fishing would be noon on Sunday, Jan. 22, if they get a reasonable price offer.

Kevin Abena, secretary and treasurer of the Kodiak Crab Alliance Cooperative, said that as of Monday, Jan. 16, Alaska Pacific Seafoods and OBI Seafoods, the latter representing Ocean Beauty and Icicle, had upped their offer from $2.50 a pound to $3 a pound. Members of the cooperative are holding out for a higher price.

Last year, Tanner crab harvesters were paid $8.30 a pound in Kodiak in the wake of the 2021 fishery, which was cancelled.

Fishermen at King Cove and Sand Point were continuing negotiations with Peter Pan Seafoods.

Abena said it’s the right decision for the harvesters, who are standing together in their decision not to fish, and that he remains optimistic.

“Everything costs a lot right now, and (retail crab) prices are not that depressed,” he said. “We are optimistic that processors will find a realistic number to make this work.”

While remaining hopeful, the cooperative was trying to arrange for fishing tenders to transport their harvest from a 5.8 million-pound total allowable catch to Dutch Harbor. The group includes about 15 larger vessels that normally would be harvesting crab in the Bering Sea and can move their own catch to Dutch Harbor, but this is not an option for smaller crab boats, seiners under 60 feet, and tenders are needed to get their catch to Dutch Harbor.

Allocations of 1.1 million pounds for the Alaska Peninsula and 400,000 pounds for Chignik are also at stake.

Abena, skipper of the f/v Big Blue, said the 130 vessel owners in the cooperative would stand down until offered a price they consider reasonable.

“There’s a lot of unity here because the price (offer) was so bad,” he said. “Their best offer as of Jan. 16 was $3.60 a pound from Dutch Harbor processors. We would love to see this crab stay in Kodiak, but that’s not likely to happen.”

Abena said he had been advised by Unisea at Dutch Harbor that they would take as much Kodiak area and westward region Tanner crab as they can get for the Bering Sea price of $3.70 a pound.

Smaller Tanner crab harvested in the Bering Sea are garnering $3.70 a pound with a guaranteed boost in price once sales are made. The Tanner crab quota for the Bering Sea fisheries this year is about 2 million pounds.