Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bering Sea Crabbers Take Conservation Message on the Road

Alaska crabbers hope to enlist American consumers in their quest to stop Russian king crab pirates on the high seas.

High crab prices this year have lured poachers back into the Russian fishery. These rogue boats deliver millions of pounds of illegal, unreported and unregulated catches (IUU), a scourge of seafood producing countries around the world. The value of the illegally caught king crab imported to the US is estimated at $3.5 billion over the past decade.

Foreign poachers produce 19 percent of the worldwide seafood catch each year valued at $13.5 billion. World fishery experts said at a recent international forum in London that poaching won’t be wiped out until seafood buyers demand it.

Alaska crabbers are taking that message on the road, starting with groups of chefs and culinary students in Florida.

“We are focusing on the conservation and economic problems caused by illegal fishing, said Jake Jacobsen, director of the Inter-Cooperative Exchange, a crab harvester group.

“Crab-inars” were held last week at the Tampa Art Institute and Keiser College along with meetings with American Culinary Federation members from Naples, Fort Myers, Tampa, and Clearwater.

Jacobsen, who has fished both the US and Russian sides of the Bering Sea, said foreign crab pirates have no regard for the crab resource.

“We are trying to create some public awareness along those lines, and talk about Alaska’s sustainably managed fisheries,” he said.

Alaska king crab can be tracked from the crab pot to the dinner plate, Jacobsen added.
He said that Bering Sea crabbers want to get people to “buy Alaskan because we do things right.”

The Alaska king crab “road show’ is a partnership of the Inter-Cooperative Exchange, the Crab Broker and the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers. #

Contacts: Jake Jacobsen 206-818-4522; Edward Poulson 206-992-3260

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