Less is more this season for Bristol Bay red king crab. The fishery’s quota was cut in half, but the price has soared.
When the season opened ten days ago, Jake Jacobsen, executive director of ICE, the largest crabber cooperative, was expecting the final price for red king to be around $10 per pound. That would have been a new record and almost three dollars more than last year. Now he says that estimate is low.
“Our advance price was raised to $9 and final prices we are expecting, of course, to be much more than that.”
A third of the 7.8 million pound quota has already been harvested.
“Probably the quickest season… fastest catch rate that I can remember since rationalization.”
The fishing is a little faster this season. Last year crabbers were catching an average of 18 legal red kings per pot lift. This year’s preliminary number is 20.
A smaller quota and faster fishing mean some boats are already done. Fifty-five vessels started the Bristol Bay season, but as of today that number has dropped to forty-one.
The Bristol Bay season doesn’t officially close until January 15th.