Dungeness crab (Angela Denning/KFSK)

Commercial Dungeness crabbers will have a full two-month summer and two-month fall season in most of the region, based on the first week’s catch.

The 2021 Southeast season isn’t off to as strong a start as last year. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game reports the preliminary catch estimate from the first week is around 711,000 pounds, landed by 163 permit holders. Those numbers are expected to increase as more landings are reported. Nevertheless, that’s under half of the bumper crop harvested in 2020. Last year saw a first-week catch of around 1.5 million pounds and the full season harvest went on to be the second highest on record, 6.7 million pounds.

Based on that first week catch, Fish and Game estimates this year’s total catch will wind up around 3.4 million pounds. That’s well above the threshold to allow a full season. Fishing time’s been shortened only a few times in the past two decades, because of a weak catch or poor quality crab.

The summer season opened June 15 and will run through August 15.

The average price this year is way up, at $4.20 a pound, more than twice the average from last year. It averaged $1.72 a pound in 2020.