Many believe king crab is strictly native to Alaska. In fact, king crabs live and breed worldwide. The more than 40 known species breed from Russia to Japan, to South America.
Alaska offers 3 common viable species: the red, blue and golden king crab. Most prized of these is the giant Red King Crab, which can weigh up to 24 lbs. with a leg span exceeding 5 feet!
The name “king” appears to have brought them all together, due to their size, but each is distinct and inhabits different parts of the ocean off the Alaskan coast.
Alaska King Crab has been growing in popularity for many years.
Due in part to the Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch”, the Alaskan king crab has become a source of interest in many homes worldwide. The dramatic allure and mystique as something obtained at great risk, challenge and danger only add to its desirability. By the 1980’s the king crab’s popularity was so great that yearly catches topped 200,000 pounds, but in succeeding years catch levels were significantly reduced down to a fraction of that amount.
In an effort to avoid overfishing and maintain healthy, sustainable king crab populations, the State of Alaska changed fishing regulations in recent years.
Alaska once employed “derby fishing” where all boats would rush to fill their quotas in a three-day period. This created a dangerous situation, as many boats would overload with crab pots and capsize. Crews were often worked to their limits without rest, increasing an already potentially dangerous work environment. In 2006, a new “catch-share” or “quota share” method was implemented, where each boat received its own quota to fill during a three-month season.
Fisheries must comply with stock rebuilding plans, and the total allowable catches now comprise a fraction of the adult male population. Strict weight limits are enforced, and juvenile crab cannot be taken, nor can female crab be sold.
In contrast, poorly regulated fishing in Russia is putting king crab stocks on the verge of collapse. Through poaching, the Russian female crab stocks are down an astonishing 84%.
Another problem is that illegal imports are flooding the U.S. market, undercutting pricing for the more expensive Alaska crab.
Imported king crab is often called Alaskan king crab because again many people think that’s the name of the species. If the king crab at your market is labeled “imported”, it is not from Alaska and has been put on the “avoid” list due to its lack of sustainability.
In recent years, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute has been pushing for better branding in the U.S., trying to distinguish it from imports.
If you’re unsure of the origin of the king crab at your market, better to use a different method. It is wise to purchase knowing it came from a sustainable, well-managed fishery.
Better yet, with the click of your mouse button, you can eliminate any guesswork, and conveniently order delicious, healthy, sustainable Alaska King Crab, the world’s best, delivered directly to your door!
Does it get any better?