Bristol Bay Bulletin
Where do we get our crab?
Posted by : Wild For Salmon /
Where do we get our crab?
At Wild for Salmon, you are buying as directly from the fisherman as we can offer.
When it comes to salmon, that’s our Bristol Bay fleet: folks Steve, Jenn, Cabot, Matt and our summer crew who spend a few months each year on the F/V Ava Jane. However, we sell more than salmon! We are excited to create a little space in our blog this winter to highlight some of our other product and share our sourcing practices that guarantee a wild, sustainable, delicious and nutritious product for you and your family.
So, where do we get our Dungeness crab? When we say: sustainably harvested, wild-caught and processed in the USA (Alaska), what do we mean exactly?
We mean that every year Steve calls up our fisherman friend, Chris McDowell, to talk crab (...and halibut & lingcod.) Chris is a multi-species fisherman! Chris has been our contact for some of these other Alaskan fisheries since Wild for Salmon decided to expand its offerings to include other product besides wild caught salmon.
Note the wide range of crabbing areas in AK. Map provided by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game.
Our Dungeness crab, the sweet, white meat you’ve been meaning to try, is harvested using pots in Alaska’s Southeast region by the fishermen, like Chris and his crew, then processed by Alaska Glacier Seafoods. For species like crab, almost all fishermen work through a larger processor, like AGS, as they are the only ones that have the equipment to process the product, and the McDowell operation, along with the rest of the crab fleet, works a lot like ours -- just in a different fishery and with bigger boats.
And that is why we trust the work they do and the product they harvest to share with us and our customers.
Alaska Glacier Seafoods is a family business with humble beginnings, like us! They started out as shrimp fishermen and have since expanded to a large processing facility outside of Juneau, Alaska.
Alaska’s Dungeness Crab fishery is highly regulated by the Department of Fish & Game, just like our fishery in Bristol Bay. This Alaskan government organization controls how much and what size crab can be commercially harvested. The harvest is also restricted to male crabs to help support the next generation of crabs. The openings avoid mating season, and further, the season is closed during the female molt period (a vulnerable time for the animal).
Crab fishermen use pots instead of nets like the ones we use in Bristol Bay. They bait the pots with herring, squid, or clams. Each pot is built with an almost 5” escape ring that allows for the escapement of undersized crabs. The rest are sorted by hand once hauled aboard and thrown back if they are under the required 6.5”.
The Dungeness Crab Season is longer than most and thus product is accessible for us to source all year. Except for the closed time for mating season, fishermen are out in search of crabs between June 1st - December 15th, living by the tide and the Alaska Department of Fish & Game’s opening and closures.
Learn more details about this species here, thanks to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.
Alaska’s renewable resource is seafood, and we are proud to be able to responsibly share it with you via our own hands or through the hands of fishermen we trust!
Looking for directions and inspiration for how to cook Dungeness crab?
Our Dungeness Crab Clusters come pre-cooked and thus can be ready-to-enjoy in a variety of ways after you thaw the product. Try them lightly steamed or heated over the grill. And then get crackin’ to make some delicious crab cakes!
Steve shared how the Kurians do it:“We steam our crab in a shallow cake pan, add 1/8 inch of water in the pan then lay a wet towel over the top. Place the whole thing in the oven at 325 for 15 minutes. Get cracking & dip in butter!!”