Red King Crab and Alaska Fisheries Alaskas-Red-King-Crab

Red King Crab and Alaska Fisheries

Review of: Red King Crab
Article by:
Michael Dalton and Jean Lee

Reviewed by:
On October 24, 2017
Last modified:October 24, 2017


Red King Crab in Alaska's Seas

Alaska’s Red King Crab

Wholesale earnings for fish products from Alaska’s red king crab, Paralithodes camtschaticus; sockeye salmon, Oncorhynchus nerka; and walleye pollock, Gadus chalcogrammus, fisheries in Alaska were more significant than 2 billion dollars in 2012 and over half of this amount came from exports.

Globally, red king crab from Alaska competes with red king crab from Russia, and market prices are highly variable. Though costs are less variable compared to king crab, Alaska pollock producers compete with manufacturers.

The United States imports large amounts of farmed Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar, from Canada. In exchange, Canada was the top export destination for Alaska’s sockeye salmon in 2012 and number two (after Japan) for Alaska’s king crab. Prices for Alaska’s sockeye followed import costs of farmed salmon before 2008 from Canada and then increased to import prices.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Fisheries have always been worldwide dependent on the ecology of shares. Additionally, the real value of fish-related world exports has increased at an average rate of almost 4% every year over the past three decades, based on fisheries data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO1).

The increase in real value reflects a worldwide trend in the physical quantity of fish-related exports (i.e., metric tons), which based on FAO statistics, increased by more than 5 percent each year on average to the world over this interval.

Collectively, these trends imply that prices, or the species composition of international capture and manufacturing, or both, have changed in the last three decades. This article assesses these tendencies in the context of the commercial red king crab, Paralithodes camtschaticus salmon fisheries, and Pollock, Gadus chalcogrammus of Alaska.

Red King Crab

The Bering Sea red king crab fishery has been the subject of much attention lately. The significant world producers of red king crab are now the USA and Russia, with Russia the primary source of U.S. imports. According to Food and Agriculture Organization data, Russia’s production of king crab has been historically much higher. In 2007, U.S. manufacturers confronted a large volume of relatively inexpensive imports of Russian king crab.

This circumstance is an economic problem for U.S. manufacturers because cheap imports can lead to a decrease in wholesale (i.e., producer) costs for Alaska’s king crab domestically and overseas, which rewards U.S. consumers but may decrease industry profits.

Since 2006, average costs in actual dollars for king crab have rebounded to previous peaks, demonstrating the variability of domestic and global rates for king crab. The downward trend in U.S. costs that began after 2002 occurred during a period of decline in Russian manufacturing and before the rise in U.S. imports, which happened after 2004. Factors aside from the quantity of crab on the market must be considered to explain trends.

Maps showing U.S. export destinations of king crab back to 1983 may be seen online. All U.S. king crab is harvested off the coast of Alaska. In 2012, the vast majority of U.S. exports of king crab were sent via Anchorage and Seattle mainly to Japan, Canada, China, and Europe, with smaller numbers shipped to tourist regions in Southeast Asia and the Caribbean. The picture indicates that large amounts of Alaska king crab have been sent all around the world, with major markets in Asia, Canada, and Europe providing a source of revenue.

Sockeye Salmon

The United States is a significant producer of wild Pacific salmon that includes Chinook, O. tshawytscha; chum, O. keta; coho, O. kisutch; pink, O. gorbuscha; and sockeye salmon. Alaska has the most significant salmon production of any nation, and much of Alaska’s earnings come from sockeye. Concerning overall revenue in Alaska from one species salmon ranks second behind Pollock.

The United States imports large amounts of farmed Atlantic salmon, mainly from Canada. Wholesale rates for Alaska sockeye have monitored prices for U.S. imports of farmed Atlantic salmon, but lately, these price series diverged. In 2012, the vast majority of U.S. exports of sockeye salmon were sent via Anchorage and Seattle mainly to Japan, Canada, and Europe.

Canada has become the most critical source of farmed Atlantic salmon imported by America, in addition to a significant customer of Alaska sockeye salmon, and Alaska king crab. In 2012, Canada was the top destination for U.S. exports of fresh and frozen sockeye salmon, with more than a quarter of the export quantity. Additionally, one-fifth of U.S. exports of frozen king crab went to Canada. This exchange of salmon for crab and salmon presents an intriguing pattern of trade between Canada and the USA.

Walleye Pollock

Actual wholesale revenues for Alaska’s chips from walleye pollock averaged almost $1.4 billion annually from 2003 to 2012, close to three times greater than sockeye salmon, the species with the 2nd highest revenues in that period. Globally, the United States was the top pollock manufacturer between 2000 and 2008, but, historically, Russia has generated more.

The three chief products of Alaska pollock are fillets, roe (eggs), and surimi (glue). Production and exports of each product decreased after 2007. Costs for roe have declined since 2003, while prices for fillets and surimi have fluctuated without demonstrating a definite trend. The international distribution of U.S. exports of walleye pollock shows the importance of markets in Asia and Europe (and, to a lesser extent, Canada) from the worldwide demand for fish products from Alaska.

This report describes state and the role of markets in walleye pollock fisheries salmon, and Alaska king crab. In the first scenario, Alaska crab has been seen to compete directly.

The case compared prices received into the growth in farmed salmon by processors of Alaska salmon. In cases like this, the United States was seen to export about half of its sockeye creation, with much of it likely in exchange for imports of farmed salmon to Canada. These commodities were traded at roughly equivalent costs until 2008 when U.S. manufacturer prices for sockeye started increasing relative to import prices for farmed Atlantic salmon.

The instance gave a summary of the markets for fillets, surimi, and roe. In each scenario, market conditions and global trade played a significant role. The relationship between the variability in roe from Pollock and costs of king crab and imports of farmed Atlantic salmon, in addition to prices, is evidence of effects of markets on Alaska fisheries.

Red King Crab and Alaska Fisheries minn-kota-trolling-motor-1

Even though the trend in fish markets has been towards exports, both red and sockeye king crab production in America are exceptions. The share of exports in U.S. sockeye production has been somewhat steady, varying between 40 percent and 50 percent of production since 2003. The U.S. export share of king crab doesn’t exhibit a tendency since 2003 and continues to be highly variable, fluemating up to 40-70 percent in consecutive years; the ordinary share for 2003-12 was marginally less than 60%.

Pollock roe is a low-value merchandise, and most of it is exported. The U.S. export share of surimi production rose from less than 70 percent in 2003 to over 90 percent in 2012. Japan is the most important export market for surimi and roe, and fillets are shipped to Canada and Europe, and an assortment of markets in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Export shares for fillets exhibited an upward trend during 2003-12, from less than 50 percent in 2003 to approximately 60 percent in 2012.

Global trade is an integral part of the Alaska market, and groundfish fisheries, and crab, salmon contribute. Trends in seafood markets appear confident to be a frequent influence, although the directions of the fisheries will be varied.