Sea cucumber fishery sees higher than average price
The commercial sea cucumber fishery is wrapping up with a total of 1.4 million pounds harvested as of last Thursday.
Scott Walker, Ketchikan Area Management Biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said the fishery started out with around 195 commercial divers when it opened in early October.
“The bulk of the fishery is over,” walker said. “The week before last was the last big push we had with around 113 divers. This week we’re down to 25 divers, maybe 30.”
According to Alaska Fisheries Entry Commission data, there are around 30 permitted divers from Petersburg fishing for the animals.
Walker said the season has seen a good harvest and since 1989, when the fishery began, harvests have remained relatively steady. The prices, though, tend to change a lot.
“It’s all globally driven,” Walker said. “It depends on what they’re harvesting in Canada and Washington and places like that.”
This year, sea cucumbers are averaging around $5 per pound. But it’s not always so high. According to ADFG data, from 2005 to 2010, the average price hovered around $2 per pound.
Walker said the biggest market for sea cucumbers is in places like Japan, China and Korea and that the fishery became popular here after it declined in Japan.
ADFG officials determine a poundage quota at the beginning of the season and close areas once the quotas have been met. There are a handful of areas left out of the original 21 in Southeast.
Sea cucumbers are sliced down the middle and five strips of meat are scraped from the animal. Walker said people also eat the skins, which are considered by many to be more flavorful than the meat.