SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton Dec 8, 2017
Live king crab from Alaska has always been seen by harvesters as the highest value crab, but the volumes, logistics and difficulties of a live supply chain have meant that live shipments have been few and far between. In the early 2000’s, one company, Royal Aleutian, used to send hundreds of thousands of live golden king crab to US markets.
Now, a processor in Adak is reviving the live crab trade with air shipments of live golden king crab directly from Adak to Shanghai, where they go into Alibaba’s massive Hema fresh seafood markets, among others.
The new crab and groundfish processor in Adak is Golden Harvest Alaska Seafood. They began direct charter flights with live golden king crab to Shanghai this past September from Adak.
They are working with the fleet to try and add live Opilio in early 2018.
CEO Jason Ogilvie says “When you look at a map, you realize just how close Alaska’s crab fisheries are to Asian markets.”
“But processing and air transportation infrastructure have always been a challenge in remote, coastal Alaska. We have solved the former and we are working hard on the latter.”
“Customers want a stable, sustainable source of seafood to support their marketing efforts. Aleutian Islands Golden King Crab is a stable, high value fishery.”
Unlike red king crab, the quota on Golden King Crab has been extremely stable for more than 15 years at between 5.5 and 6 million pounds. The reason, scientists say, is that the crab is fished on sea mounts, and they believe the bulk of the population lives at depths greater than can be fished by crab gear. So only about 20% of the Golden King crab stock is available to the fishery.
Harvesters have been trying to get more research funded on golden king crab, especially to determine if a higher level of harvest is warranted.
Since September, Ogilvie says that his company has processed and shipped millions of pounds of crab, halibut and Pacific Cod at the plant in Adak.
The town is the site of a former military base, and the infrastructure including docks and a major runway has been repurposed to try and support the fishery. Adak also benefits from some special fish allocations, designed to help sustain a working community on the remote island.
“We have invested millions of dollars in our holding and processing capacity in just a few months. The western Aleutian Islands are known for their pristine waters and abundant fisheries, and we look forward to working with Alaska’s fishing community to bring value-added products like Live Crab to market,” says Ogilvie.