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Alaska King Crab Fishing Season

The Alaska King Crab season approximately starts from October to January and there’s nothing more a crustacean lover could ask for. Each season on Dutch harbor, Alaska, around 250 fishing boats costing several million dollars made especially for crab hunting would come in search of the Alaskan Red King Crab. The Red King Crab is the largest of the crab species and is highly valued for its meat. It has become a delicacy around the world and hence the most lucrative catch.

In Alaska, three varieties of King Crabs are caught commercially with different harvesting seasons. U.S. Red King Crab is mostly found in the Bristol Bay area of Alaska and is the most prized out of the three. The Blue King Crab is mostly found in the St. Matthew Island and the Pribilof Islands whereas the Golden King Crab is mostly found in the Aleutian Islands. Another variety called the Scarlet King Crab is a rare variety and although the meat is sweet and tasty it is not considered commercially feasible.

The Alaskan crab industry after the 2005 season transitioned from a derby-style season to a quota system called the Rationalization. Under the old system a lot of players competed against each other to catch as much crab as possible within a restrictive window. The new system of Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) allocated the established owners with quotas which they can complete at a leisurely pace.

The new rule is intended to be more much safer as King Crab Hunting is a dangerous business. The Discovery Channel aired a documentary by the name Deadliest Catch that featured the men braving freezing temperatures, turbulent seas, pots that weigh over a ton and days with little sleep. The IFQ was also supposed to limit availability of the crab thereby increasing its value. This however had a negative impact on the smaller boats which found their quotas too small to meet the operating expenses.

In the Bristol Bay, Bering Sea, and Aleutian Islands area’s fishing Red King Crab is around October middle to January middle and for the Golden one it is from first week of August to around May end. It’s from July to September in the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim area for the Red one and another season from the middle of November to the end of May.

In the southeast parts of Alaska, the Golden King Crab fishing is only in the spring, while the red and blue crab season has a doorway throughout the fall to early winter. The Alaska King Crab season can last as long as 4 weeks or run as short as only 4 days.