Once the quota of 37,260 pounds is reached, Norton Sound’s red king crab CDQ fishery is set to close for the season. That should happen today (Wednesday), capping off a fast and successful winter crabbing season with a record-high catch price ($7.75/lb.).
In the first season shortened by a new quota, winter fishermen harvested the allowed 41,376 pounds of red king crab in just over a month.
Commercial fishermen are on par with last year’s record-breaking catch, but they stand to make less money because of a new, reduced quota.
Norton Sound’s winter crab fishery finally opened Monday after poor sea ice delayed commercial crabbers for about a month.
This winter’s commercial king crab harvest broke a new record with nearly 100,000 pounds harvested from Norton Sound. To put that in perspective, the previous record was 62,000 pounds in 2013.
Officials at Fish and Game say it’s been a good year for red king crab — so good, in fact, that the harvest was roughly 6,000 pounds over the guideline harvest limit.
For the past three years, Phil Pryzmont, local crabber and captain of the Erica Renee, has been taking observers into the Norton Sound with him as part of a crab migration project.
Commercial crabbers in the Bering Strait Region are harvesting a new species of king crab this year following a change in state classification. The crab is a Hanasaki king crab, otherwise known as a “spiny” king crab. Seafood processors look forward to an expanded market and biologist await more accurate species data.
Area fishermen will be about to catch 12 percent of 3.2 million pounds of harvestable red king crab this summer.
Facing data that points to a decline in Norton Sound red king crab, Nome residents addressed the NPFMC to consider new data and safeguard subsistence harvests.