The season’s last delivery of snow crab crossed the docks last week, wrapping up the 2017-18 Bering Sea crab season until the fall.
“Most of the guys had a difficult time catching their snow crab and it was really spotty. Some landed on the crab and filled up fast and went home. The weather wasn’t good and a few boats lost windows,” said Jake Jacobsen, director of the Inter-cooperative Exchange which negotiates prices for the bulk of the 50 to 60 boat fleet.
Fishing for bairdi Tanner crab, which ended in late March, was “no problem across the board,” said Jacobsen. “They caught the crab easily and there seemed to be a lot around.”
Price negotiations for snow crab and Tanners are just getting underway, but the outlook is good.
“We will probably get the second highest price ever for snow crab, and certainly our bairdi price will be good,” Jacobsen said.
The highest Alaska snow crab price was $4.98 a pound in 2011. Tanners in recent years have paid out at around $3 a pound.
A price also should be finalized any day for red king crab from the Bristol Bay fishery which ended in mid-November, but Jacobsen said it “will be right up there.”
The highest red king crab price was last year’s $10.89 a pound.
Attention turns now to the next Bering Sea crab season which begins in mid-October. At a time of declining crab stocks, the outcome will hinge upon results of the summer surveys.
“If you go by last year’s results, there is certainly a strong possibility of further quota reductions,” Jacobsen said. “We’re hoping for some uptick in the stocks, but I don’t think anyone is overly optimistic.”
Jacobsen said the biggest concern among crabbers is the warming of the Bering Sea and the northward migration of the crab stocks.