Breaking News
More () »

Fishermen fear going out of business after Alaska cancels snow and king crab harvest

For the first time in US history, the Bering Sea snow crab harvest is closed and for the second consecutive year, so is the Bristol Bay red king Crab harvest.

SEATTLE — Crab fishermen are at a loss after Alaska canceled harvest season for two types of crabs over population concerns.

For the first time ever, the Bering Sea snow crab harvest is closed, and for the second consecutive year, the Bristol Bay red king crab harvest is as well.

The closure will result in fewer King and Snow crabs showing up on the menu, but the biggest impact is being felt by fishermen.

Being a fisherman isn’t a 9-5 job, it’s a lifestyle, often spanning generations.

 “My husband is a 5th generation fisherman. His mom grew up in Ketchikan,” said Bri Dwyer who is a Commercial Fishing Industry photographer and storyteller. Her husband Captain Sean Dwyer is featured on the TV show Deadliest Catch.

“That type of lifestyle takes a certain type of person and a certain type of drive that’s really inspiring,” said Bri Dwyer.

Sean Dwyer is currently in Alaska finishing up filming. The family found out with everyone else this week that their crabbing season in the Bering Sea could be nonexistent. 

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced the cancelations on Monday. The department said the harvests were closed over concerns about long-term conservation and the sustainability of crab stocks.

“There’s a small Bairdi season, a little over 2 million pounds and we need to see if it makes sense for our boats,” said Bri Dwyer. The Dwyers are part of the two to three vessels equipped to catch that species of crab of the 60-vessel fleet within Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers (ABSC).

“Many of them are small family businesses, second and third-generation fishermen and they are losing their jobs, it’s simply devastating," said Executive Director of ABSC Jamie Goen. 

Goen said she understands the shut down takes pressure off the stock, but she isn't seeing it applied to other sectors.

“As fishermen, we are stewards of the resource and the oceans and we do care tremendously," said Bri Dwyer.

Goen told KING 5 that the crab supply will be able to bounce back, but the generational fishing businesses won’t. They’re asking for emergency relief like that given to farmers if there’s a crop failure.

This news trickles down to coastal communities, processors and local markets. 

“Once we get into the holidays I’m not sure we’ll have enough King Crab to supply the holidays,” said John Speltz who is the owner of Wild Salmon Seafood Market. 

The news makes fisherman families wonder if they will be passing on their legacy to the new generation. 

“At the end of the day, we’re fishermen,” said Bri Dwyer.

Watch: KING 5's Top Stories playlist


Before You Leave, Check This Out