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Bering Sea Dungeness crab season starts in May, officials predict good harvests

Dungeness crab that were caught in the Bering Sea by a local Unalaska fisherman.
Sofia Stuart-Rasi
Dungeness crab that were caught in the Bering Sea by a local Unalaska fisherman.

The commercial season for Dungeness crab in the North Peninsula District opens May 1, and officials say this year’s harvest trajectory looks good. The individual pot limit for the area this year is 500 per vessel.

Ethan Nichols is the groundfish and shellfish area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Dutch Harbor. He said with harvests increasing since 2020, participation in the fishery has followed.

“In 2022, 16 vessels harvested 2.8 million pounds of Dungeness out of the North Peninsula District, which that year made the North Peninsula the largest Dungeness harvest in the state of Alaska,” Nichols said.

Last year, harvest numbers fell from that all-time record, but the total catch was still large. Just 11 permit holders delivered a total of 1.6 million pounds in Dungeness crab. Nichols said pricing could have deterred some fishermen from participating. It averaged $1.80 to $2.00 per pound.

“The price was not very good last year,” Nichols said. “I think that drove a lot of vessels to not end up fishing the Dungeness fishery and maybe focus on salmon fisheries instead.”

He said he’s not sure what dock prices will look like this season, but hopes they’re higher than last year’s.

This year, 15 vessels registered before the April 1 deadline. The opening runs May 1 to Oct. 18. Nichols said there could be ample opportunity for harvesting this year. Last year, the Dungeness crab population did not appear to decrease as the season progressed.

The Dungeness crab fishery in the North Peninsula District stretches north of Cape Sarichef into the Bering Sea.

To purchase buoy tags or for further information, contact the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Dutch Harbor at (907) 581-1239.

Born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina, Andy Lusk is a writer, travel enthusiast and seafood aficionado who won the jackpot by landing in Unalaska/Dutch Harbor. When he's not hiking or working on his latest story, you can find him curled up with his cats and a good book. Andy is a Report for America corps member and an alumnus of New York University.
Sofia was born and raised in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. She’s reported around the U.S. for local public radio stations, NPR and National Native News. Sofia has a Master of Arts in Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism from the University of Montana, a graduate certificate in Documentary Studies from the Salt Institute and a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Arts from the University of Colorado Boulder. In between her studies, Sofia was a ski bum in Telluride, Colorado for a few years.
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