Southeast Alaska Dungeness crab catch down from last year

Dungeness crab. (Creative Commons Photo by Andy Clordia)
Dungeness crab. (Creative Commons Photo by Andy Clordia)

This summer’s commercial catch of Dungeness crab in Southeast Alaska looks to be down from last year, even with a strong price paid for the crab.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s preliminary harvest estimate for the summer harvest is 1.9 million pounds.

A total of 198 permit holders landed crab during the season which runs June 15 through Aug. 15.

Fish and Game’s Assistant crab biologist for the region Kellii Wood said the bulk of the catch came in the early weeks of crabbing.

“It was kinda fast and furious in the beginning and it definitely slowed down near the end of the summer season, probably more so than previous years,” Wood said. “But hopefully it’ll pick up in the fall.”

Last summer the catch was 2.69 million pounds, caught by 195 permit holders.

This summer’s catch fell short of that and is well below a big harvest from the year before that topped 4 million pounds.

Crabbers saw a good price this year, averaging $3.03 a pound, up four cents a pound from last year.

Overall the catch was worth $5.8 million at the docks.

The largest catch totals were around Wrangell, Petersburg and in Lynn Canal, Wood said.

“The top three districts in terms of harvests were districts 8, 15 and 6,” Wood said. “District 8 which includes the waters in the Wrangell and Petersburg areas saw the largest harvest of about 334,000 pounds.”

“District 15 which includes upper Lynn Canal, Berners Bay, St. James Bay and the Chilkat and Chilkoot inlets saw a harvest of about 235,000 pounds and district 6 which includes around here the Duncan Canal, Level Island, Wrangell Narrows and part of Sumner Strait saw a harvest of about 266,000 pounds.”

The highest effort was around Petersburg and Wrangell.

A fall season opens Oct. 1 and runs through the end of November for most of the region.

Typically the bulk of the catch is landed during the summer season.