Bristol Bay king crab season starts with a bang despite meager expectations

Published on
November 4, 2016

Bristol Bay’s red king crab season began with a bang even in the face of predictions that promised the opposite, according to reports from KDLG.

In just a dozen days, the Bristol fleet acquired two-thirds of its total quota; as of 26 October, fishers caught 5.6 million pounds of crab, leaving three million left to haul before the harvest must come to a close.

"I wasn’t sure what to expect from the fishery this season," said Miranda Westphal, an area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, to KDLG. "I am really pleased that the fishery is performing well."

Commercial fishermen such as Gordon Christiansen, who has more than 40 years of experience fishing on the Bering Sea, has also been pleased by the haul and voracity of the catch.

"From the time we set pots in the water, we were done in 60 hours," said Christiansen. "It was amazing, tremendous fishing. We'd like to go out again and do it again tomorrow."

Christiansen’s fleet, which is seven vessels strong, has reached its harvest limit of 120,000 pounds, and is therefore finished for 2016. The average weight of the crabs acquired by the fleet was over seven pounds, about a half-pound larger than what the crew is accustomed to, said KDLG.

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