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Bering Sea crabbers are dropping pots for king crab, snow crab and bairdi Tanner when the fisheries get underway today, Oct. 15.

As expected, the catch was reduced for red king crab taken in the eastern Bering Sea waters of Bristol Bay — just 2.6 million pounds is a 30 percent drop from the 3.8 million pounds taken last season.

“We’ve heard from scientists in the past that there has not been good recruitment into that fishery for over a decade,” said Jamie Goen, executive director of the trade group Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, which represents harvesters.

For the first time since 2018, there will be a bairdi Tanner crab opener with a catch of 2.3 million pounds.

And as expected, the catch for snow crab was increased, but not by as much as crabbers had hoped. Managers set the snow crab catch at 45 million pounds, a 32 percent increase from last season’s take of 34 million pounds.

Signs point to a strong market for snow crab. The fact that snow crab is precooked and ready to eat is a big plus, and a waning Japanese market has provided more snow crab to U.S. buyers. The market also is expanding to China and more European countries.

John Sackton has reported that snow crab from eastern Canada, the world’s largest producer, already is oversold, and orders are now being filled with crab from Russia.

“There is little snow crab available, and buyers are scrambling to cover their sales,” he said, adding that means customers will now have the option to buy more snow crab from Alaska until Canada’s fishery reopens in April.

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Laine Welch has covered the Alaska fish beat for print and radio since 1988. She has also worked “behind the counter” at retail and wholesale seafood companies in Kodiak and Cape Cod. Click here to send her an email.

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