Crab fishing boats in Alaska

The Alaskan king crab fishing season is a strictly regulated season during which commercial fisherman are allowed to harvest Alaskan crabs during what is considered the “peak” time period for harvesting these increasingly popular crustaceans. There are regulated reasons for just about every type of Alaskan crab which commercial fisherman might choose to harvest; however, the two most well-known and popular Alaskan crab fishing seasons are the seasons for the Alaskan king crab and the Alaskan snow crab.

Alaskan King Crab Season

The Alaskan king crab season begins every year on the same date: October 15th. The regulated duration of the king crab season will largely depend on the current allowable catch quota, which is based on population estimates and harvest estimates from previous seasons. Before the increased regulations on the commercial fishing of Alaskan crabs, as many as 250 to 300 boats would launch each season to harvest crabs. However, that number has sharply decreased to about 80 to 90 boats launched during the latest king crab season—largely in part due to the decreased allowable catch quota. In 2012, the total allowable catch was 18.5 million pounds for king crabs. Each boat launched during the reason was therefore given a specific weight quota which they could not exceed. Currently, king crab seasons last about two to four weeks. However, this duration is not set in stone—one particularly short king crab season lasted only four days!

Alaskan Snow Crab Season

The Alaskan snow crab season, unlike the king crab season, does not have a specific set opening date. The opening of the snow crab season will largely depend on when the ice on the Alaskan seas breaks, allowing for the harvest of these crabs. The total allowable catch quota for snow crabs is generally much higher than that of the king crabs. In 2012, the total allowable catch for Alaskan snow crabs was around 55 million pounds. This allows for a much longer fishing season for snow crabs, as well as a higher total allowable catch quota per vessel.

Did You Know?

Fun trivia regarding Alaskan crab fishing seasons and Alaskan crab fishing regulations:

Only adult males of any crab species may be harvested; juvenile crabs and female crabs must be released.

Alaskan crabs are usually caught using metal pots which weigh up to 800 lbs.; these pots are baited with sardines, cod, or ground herring.

Although the snow crab season may open as early as October, many fishermen wait until January due to a higher demand for snow crab during the spring and summer months.

It is important for fishermen to keep every crab it harvests alive. When a crab dies, its body emits toxins which can poison other crabs in the area–in effect, this means that one dead crab in the boat’s holding tank can kill the entire day’s catch.

Fisherman typically make anywhere between $27 and $45 for a single red king crab; they typically make between $1.70 and $5.10 for a single snow crab.

Alaskan King Crab Season
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