Southeast Alaska’s Dungeness crab fleet has exceeded expectations for the season, thanks to a strong catch during October and November.
“The fall season looked pretty good compared to past seasons. We came in at right at a million pounds for the fall season,” said Adam Messmer, Fish and Game’s assistant shellfish manager for Southeast.
The last two years, the fall catch has been around half that. The increase comes despite a drop in the number of crabbers out fishing this fall, with 87 permits fished in October and November. The million pounds of crab puts the combined summer and fall catch at 2.6 million pounds, well above the projected catch from the first week of the summer season.
“The projection was at 2.17 (million), which was below our threshold for 2.25, that’s why we had a shortened season for the summer, to try and take that into account,” said Messmer, adding “But, the fall season, nobody really knew it was gonna be as good as it was.”
Most of the region has a two-month summer and two-month fall season. The summer season was shortened by one week this year because of a low projected catch.
This year’s combined summer and fall catch tops last years and is on par with the catch from the year before that. It’s still well below annual harvests that have sometimes topped five million pounds during the past decade.
The price during this year’s fall season was similar to last year, at $2.53 a pound. That means the value of the fall catch was over two and a half million dollars at the dock.
A few areas near Sitka and Ketchikan remain open to Dungeness crabbing through the end of February.