Finding a job as a crab fisherman in Alaska

Of all the varied fishing jobs Alaska is famous of, the Alaska king crab fishing job is considered to be the most dangerous in North America. Those in employment of catching king crab brave extreme weather conditions and harsh work environments to catch as many king crabs as possible!

Of all the fishing areas in Alaska Bristol Bay, Kodiak Island, Bering Sea and the Dutch harbor are the primary areas for Alaska king crab fishing. Here the small town of Dutch Harbor is the main hub of activity. There are basically three kinds of crab found in Alaska; Alaska king crab, tanner crab and Dungeness crab. It was in the year 1950 that foreign boats dominated Alaska's king crab fishing jobs. As profits were good, U.S. boats also moved in for the catch. In the peak of the king crab boom, the crab fisheries produced 200 million pounds of crab. It should be noted that both king and tanner crabs are harvested offshore, while the Dungeness crab is found in shallower waters.

It is because of the danger involved in the Alaska king crab fishing job industry that the pay here is more than any other fishing industry jobs. Those in employment as a deckhand in king crab fishing boats earn as much as ,000 for six months of work. The typical crab boat has a skipper and four to ten crewmembers working to catch king crab. It is seldom that the newcomer gets to work directly in a Alaska king crab fishing job.

They first have to gain experience while fishing for salmon in the summer months in Alaska fishing boats. Then in the winter months, they may move on to winter crabbing; and if this does not deter them, they can start seeking employment in summer crabbing boats. So it can be seen that the best way of getting employment in a Alaska king crab fishing boat is through meeting skippers of Alaska fishing boats.

Nowadays, increasing numbers of Alaska king crab fishing boats are getting converted into catcher/processors. In this way, the Alaska crab fishing industry provides more employment through the processing of crabmeat. These boats employ the standard five-person Alaska crab fishing crew, with additional workers to process the crabmeat. The methods of harvesting in these boats are different from those used by regular crab boats. However, once the traps are hauled aboard, the crabs are either stored in live tank, sorted, gilled, cooked, bagged, split or frozen. As other Alaska crab fishing boats, the crab catcher/processor also buys other boats' hauls to process them in addition to their own.

The Alaska king crab fishing job consists of baiting large steel crab pots with a combination of chopped herring and salmon or cod. These pots are usually 7' x 7'x 3', weighing 700 pounds. These pots are lowered from crabbing boats with the use of hydraulic launchers to the floor of the continental shelf to be marked with a buoy. These crabbing boats return later to haul up the huge catch of king crabs using hydraulic wrenches.