Alaska Seafood Home

  Harvesting Alaska Shellfish

Types of Alaska Shellfish

  • Alaska King Crab
  • Alaska Dungeness Crab
  • Alaska Snow Crab
  • Alaska Scallops
  • Alaska Shrimp
  • Alaska Mussels
  • Alaska Clams
  • Alaska Oysters
  • Dive Fisheries: Geoducks, Sea Urchins and Sea Cucumbers

Harvesting Alaska Crab
Crabbing the method of harvesting Dungeness, King, and Snow crab, is dangerous and grueling work. Steel traps or pots are baited with cut fish, then pushed over the side. Buoys mark the location of each pot, and its owner. At the right time, judged by gut instinct and years of experience, the pots are hauled in, quickly emptied into the hold, rebaited, and returned to the ocean floor.

Fishermen Pulling a Crab Pot Out Of The WaterFishermen Tieing Down Crab Pots On A Fishing Boat At Sea

Harvesting Alaska Scallops
Harvested in the icy waters off the Gulf of Alaska, Alaska Scallops are hand-shucked and frozen within hours, ensuring their just-caught flavor and texture. Packed on board without the use of chemicals or preservatives, Alaska Scallop fishermen are able to consistently deliver product which lives up to its reputation for flavor and freshness. And because the Alaska Scallop fishery is conservatively managed and tightly regulated, a consistent supply of high-quality seafood is assured, year-round.

Scallops and ShellsPlated Scallops

Harvesting Alaska Shrimp
Harvested in the icy waters from the Aleutian Islands to Southeast Alaska, Alaska Shrimp are known for their tender texture and distinctive flavor. Pink shrimp are the primary species by weight, and these are targeted with bottom trawls and beam trawls. Most of the catch of northern shrimp is shelled by mechanical peelers and then frozen. Spot shrimp are the largest and most valued of the Alaskan shrimp and are marketed as live, fresh, or frozen product. These are targeted with pots in generally steep and rough bottom terrain. Other shrimp harvested include sidestripe shrimp with trawls, coonstripe shrimp targeted with pots, and humpy shrimp mostly caught incidentally in trawls.

Three ShrimpLarge Bin of Shrimp

Harvesting Alaska Geoducks, Sea Cucumbers and Sea Urchins
Alaska’s icy waters are the source of many different dive products. Geoducks, sea urchins and sea cucumbers are generally harvested in the cold clean waters of Southeast Alaska.  Individual harvesters using hookah, surface supplied air, or scuba gear gather these products.  Alaska Department of Fish and Game employs responsible management techniques in order to ensure the sustainability of these fisheries.

Geoducks are a large bi-valve with a wonderful texture and delicate, clean flavor, reminiscent of the ocean. They are served in sushi restaurants and can be used as a substitute for conch. Geoducks are served as sashimi, ceviche and fritters. These large clams are harvested in the fall; the season can run from October to May.

Sea cucumbers are an echinoderm; the season starts the first week of October and typically runs thru December.  Sea cucumbers are used for a variety of things, both medicinal and cuisine. Sea cucumbers have five strips of white meat, with a calamari like favor and texture. Great in a variety of recipes, from stir fries to hot pots.

Sea urchins are harvested year around, mostly around Craig and Ketchikan.  Red sea urchins are beautiful; the roe (uni) is golden and sweet.  Sea urchin roe is shipped jugged, trayed or live.  Sea urchin roe is served at sushi restaurants, in soufflés and pates.

Plated Geoducks Sea Cucumbers Pleated Sea Urchin

Harvesting Alaska Clams
Hard shell clams, principally littleneck clams and razor clams are harvested in the cold waters of the Cook Inlet region. Littleneck and other hard shell clams (cockles and butter clams) are dug by hand shovel in the Kachemak Bay area. A commissioner’s permit is required. Razor clams are dug with shovels and clam “guns.” Current and historical harvest areas are sandy beaches of lower Cook Inlet, the Alaska Peninsula, and near Cordova.

Recent statewide clam harvests have averaged about 750,000 lb worth slightly more than $1 million.

Eight Clams Clams