Crab Kings: Bering Sea Season Looks Strong Ahead of October Start

By Laine Welch.
Bering Sea crabbers got some good news in advance of the season opener in mid-October.
“We’ve been told that we will have a Bering Sea red king crab season. We don’t know what the catch will be yet but we understand that it will be reduced from last year. We really appreciate the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for giving us a head’s up on that,” said Jake Jacobsen, director of the Inter-cooperative Exchange, which represents more than 75 percent of the crab fleet of about 85 boats.
The 2018 catch limit for Bristol Bay red king crab was just 4.3 million pounds. Jacobsen said the catch will go into an eager market and make for a good pay day. “Our average price for king crab last year was $10.53,” he said. “We’re expecting higher prices this year based on what we’re seeing in world markets.”
The record price for Alaska red king crab was $10.84 a pound paid in 2011.
No word yet on the catch quota for snow crab (opilio), although it should increase from this year’s take of 27.5 million pounds.
Surveys in 2018 showed a 60 percent boost in market sized male crabs and nearly the same for females. Bob Foy, director of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s crab plan team, said it “documented one of the largest snow crab recruitment events biologists have ever seen.”