Golden king crab harvests are slightly down this season but prices for the shellfish are well above average.
According to Alaska Department of Fish and Game data, the current golden crab price average is $10.10 per pound. That’s more than $2 more per pound compared to last season and nearly double the previous five-year average.
This season’s preliminary golden crab harvest is 510,743 pounds compared to last season’s 599,234 pounds.
Joe Stratman, ADF&G Region 1 Lead Crab Biologist, said the Southeast openings and closures are based solely on fishery performance.
“We don’t have any sort of survey for golden king crab,” Stratman said. “We looked at catch rates and harvests.
Icy Strait closed April 23 with only 27 percent of its guideline harvest limit taken. Fisherman harvested more than 265,000 pounds of golden king crab from the East Central management area—the most poundage harvested in Southeast.
The golden king crab fishery has been around every year since the 1970s as opposed to the sporadic red and blue king crab fisheries. Stratman said gold king crab habitat is more prevalent in the region and red and blue king crabs are actually in a different genus—that is, red and blue crab are more closely related to each other than the golden.
“They’re just different beasts,” Stratman said.“They (golden crab) like a little different bottom type. You almost always catch red king crab on kind of a silty, muddy bottom. Golden king crab can be caught on soft bottoms but also on harder bottoms.”
Golden crab like structures such as barnacle piles, edges of channel slopes and fjords and can be found at depths in excess of 150 fathoms.
The crab have a 7-inch harvest width minimum.
There were 33permitted fishermen in the region harvesting gold crab this season.