Facebook Twitter

Alaska cancels snow crabbing season, devastating local markets

Much of Western Alaska relies on selling snow crabs for a living. For two years, Alaskans have been unable to do so

SHARE Alaska cancels snow crabbing season, devastating local markets

Crews unloads Dungeness crab from the hold of a fishing boat at Icicle Seafoods in Petersburg, Alaska, Saturday, June 24, 2006.

Klas Stolpe, Associated Press

The Alaska Fish and Game Department announced on Monday that the 2022/23 snow crab fishing season will be canceled due to the crab population levels being too low to legally authorize fishing. This will be the second consecutive year the hunt has been shut down, according to The Washington Post.

Key quote: The Fish and Game department states that they “carefully considered all input from crab industry stakeholders prior to making this decision. Understanding crab fishery closures have substantial impacts on harvesters, industry, and communities, ADF&G must balance these impacts with the need for long-term conservation and sustainability of crab stocks.”

Why does it matter? Miranda Westphal, a biologist for the state fish and game department, told The New York Times that 90% of the local snow crab population disappeared between 2018 and 2021.

  • Scientists theorize that the Bering Sea — where the crabs live — was too warm in recent years for the arctic crabs to survive.
  • Alaska accounts for 6% of the world’s supply of king, snow, tanner and Dongennes crabs, according to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

Devastation for the crab industry: Not only do warming waters impact the lives of the crabs and the local ecosystems, but much of Western Alaska depends on crabs for their livelihoods, according to The Washington Post.

  • “These are truly unprecedented and troubling times for Alaska’s iconic crab fisheries and for the hard-working fishermen and communities that depend on them,” the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers said in a statement. The organization represents most of the crabbers in the area. “Second and third-generation crab-fishing families will go out of business due to the lack of meaningful protection by decision-makers to help crab stocks recover.”