The 2006-2007 Bering Sea red king crab season wrapped up its second year under the IFQ system in November. This year���s fishery operated under a 100 percent retention policy adopted by the fleet in response to problems (and a quota reduction) associated with high grading during the 2005-2006 season. Post-season reports indicate fishery managers were pleased with retention rates for this season.
The industry has been adjusting to a new world king crab market. As reported in the October bulletin, large volumes of king crab have been harvested from the Barents Sea, substantially increasing world supply. The result has been low retail prices for king crab in domestic and export markets, widely reported in the trade press. One report identified supermarket retail prices in Seattle as low as $6.99 per pound for small king crab legs and $9.99 to $11.99 per pound for large legs. Slow harvests from the Barents Sea in recent months have reportedly helped strengthen king crab markets in Japan, the primary export market for Alaska king crab. However, large inventories of Barents Sea king crab in U.S markets have kept domestic prices low.
The 2006-2007 Bristol Bay king crab fishery ended with the last delivery November 28. The harvest totaled nearly 13.9 million pounds, about 86,000 pounds short of the quota and a significant decline from the 2005-2006 season harvest of 18.3 million pounds in the Bristol Bay fishery.
The preliminary average ex-vessel price from fish tickets for the Bristol Bay red king crab fishery is $3.60 per pound, down significantly from the average price of $4.52 in the previous year���s fishery. However, it should be noted that price data for the current season is incomplete and that prices vary based on type of crab IFQ, on processor and on post-season sales activity.
Japan purchase prices reported in the trade press are $8.15 per pound C&F for brine-frozen no.1 product and $8.50 per pound for no.1 blast-frozen product. Buyers in Japan have reportedly purchased two-thirds of Bristol Bay red king crab production,
Domestic market prices for red king crab are similar. According to one trade press report, FOB Seattle value of frozen red king crab 9-12 count leg & claw ranged between $8.35-$8.85 per pound from October to December 2006. Price for the same product a year ago ranged between $9.25 - $11.25 per�� pound with November and December 2005 prices (after the Bristol Bay red crab season) at the low end of the range.