The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced Friday, June 28th there will be a full commercial Dungeness crab season in Southeast Alaska this year. That’s because crabbers landed 1.37 million pounds during the first week. That number is nearly double the ten-year average for first week’s harvest.
Joe Stratman, Fish & Game’s lead crab biologist for the region, says the strong start prompted an impressive full-season estimate.
“This season, the initial full-season harvest estimate is 6.97 million pounds, which is the largest estimate we’ve ever produced,” Stratman said.
Of course, this is only an estimate and there’s no guarantee of a record-breaking season. Still, the fishery does seem poised for another strong showing coming off last year’s 4 million pound harvest.
Stratman says the quality of the crab has also been good this year, as evidenced by the small percentage of soft shell crabs as of June 27th.
“Only about 3,700 pounds of that was graded as soft shell by the plants. So that’s about two tenths of one percent,” Stratman said. “So you know it sort of backs up what we were hearing at the beginning of the season anecdotally that crabs were hard and of good quality.”
Soft shell crab contain less meat and command a lower price.
Stratman said the effort is up a bit this year compared to the first week of the 2018 season, from 151 permit holders to 169. As of last week the total harvest was valued at 4.67 million dollars. The average dock price was 3 dollars and 5 cents a pound, holding steady from last year.
This year will be the second full commercial season in a row after the 2017 fishery was cut short due to low harvests.