CRAB

Laura Kraegel/KUCB

Bering Sea fishermen head out Monday for the start of the commercial crabbing season.

Despite participating in what has long been considered one the country's most dangerous fisheries, the crab fleet has made major safety strides in the last two decades.

KUCB's Laura Kraegel spoke with Captain Bill Wichrowski of the F/V Summer Bay and Scott Wilwert of the U.S. Coast Guard's fishing vessel safety program about that changing culture.

Lt. Jeff Mistrick // U.S. Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard rescued a commercial fisherman Tuesday after he was hit in the head by a crab pot.

Officials say the crew member was struck while the F/V Patricia Lee was fishing for golden king crab 190 miles west of Unalaska.

Air Station Kodiak sent two MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews and an HC-130 aircraft to hoist the 27-year-old man from the vessel.

He was transported to Cold Bay and then Unalaska for emergency medical care.

Officials say he was in stable condition.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Golden king crab season opens Wednesday in the Aleutian Islands.

And for the first time in its 22-year history, the commercial fishery isn't capped by a rigid quota.

"It's really exciting this year," said biologist Miranda Westphal of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. "It was great to have some freedom in setting limits in this fishery."

Brown crab prefer the deep, current-heavy waters of island passes, so it's basically impossible to count them. In fact, Westphal said this is the region's only large rationalized crab fishery without a survey.

National Transportation Safety Board

A crab boat that sank in the Bering Sea last winter likely capsized after the vessel became coated in hundreds of thousands of pounds of ice.

That's the conclusion of a report released last week by federal investigators.

The findings shed new light on the loss of the F/V Destination and its six crew members.  

Zoë Sobel/KUCB

Unalaska is America’s fish capital. More seafood is hauled into Dutch Harbor than anywhere in the country, but for residents it’s not easy to find fresh fish unless they catch it themselves.

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