All worries are history now after a delayed start for the bulk of the Bristol Bay red king crab fishery, with a lot more crab caught in a shorter period of time than in other years.
That was the report Nov. 11 from Jake Jacobsen of the Inter-Cooperative Exchange in Seattle, who said that 96 percent of the allowable harvest for individual fishing quota permit holders had been landed. Jacobsen said that of the 7,740,000 pound IFQ allocation only 336,682 pounds of the red king crab remained to be harvested.
“It’s going really fast,” Jacobsen said.
As for the weather, it’s not very good at this time of year, and there have been gale warnings, he said.
By this time a year ago, 95 percent of the quota was caught, but last year the fishery started on schedule on Oct. 15. This year harvesters under the community development quota program were able to begin harvesting on Oct. 15, but the IFQ holders were tied to the dock until Oct. 19, because of a partial federal government shutdown that delayed issuance of their permits.
This season’s total allowable catch, set by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, is 7,853,000 pounds, including 7,067,700 pounds for IFQ holders and 785,300 pounds for community development quota harvesters.
Negotiations on final prices to harvesters haven’t even begun yet.
That’s usually done about Jan. 20, said Jacobsen. “In the old derby style fishery, we set a price and they went fishing, and now we set the price at the end,” he said. “We have a very complex arbitration system and a lot of rules and regulations we adhere to. It’s a whole new world from what it used to be.”
In the popular retail markets like the world famous Pike Place Fish Market on the Seattle waterfront and 10th and M Seafoods in Anchorage, orders were coming in steadily from Bristol Bay red king crab aficionados and other holiday shoppers.
Pike Place Fish Market (www.pikeplacefish.com) was posting $39.99 a pound for frozen Alaska king crab legs, plus $65 for shipping up to 12 pounds of those crab legs overnight, anywhere in the continental United States. Fresh crab, when available, was fetching $44.99 a pound.
A fishmonger answering the phone in Seattle for online orders said he taken 20 shipping orders that day by mid-afternoon, and he was one of 10 employees taking orders from online customers. Meanwhile, customers in line at the marketplace ranged from one woman purchasing a pound for her evening meal to another customer planning a crab dinner for a dozen guests, he said.