After a long and eager wait, our Kodiak fleet returned home from Bristol Bay with their holds teaming with live crab. Offloading crab is a long, laborious
task because the crab has to be loaded by hand into buckets that are lowered into the hold. Once the crab is brought up and into the processing plant,
it works its way down the processing line where it is cleaned, sorted and packed into cooking baskets. Typically, the crab is cooked in a brine solution
for about 25 minutes at 205 degrees. After cooking, the crab is frozen and packed in 45 lb boxes.
The crab this year was delivered by several vessels, including F/V Nuka Island, F/V Incentive, and F/V Atlantico. There are no easy days crab fishing,
but the paydays make the risk and hard work worth the effort. For those of us back at home in Kodiak, it is exciting to see the boats pulling into
town, but also as a former Coast Guard helo pilot, a relief to know that the fishing boats and their crew are safe.
Many of you have followed the harrowing stories of the Alaskan King Crab fleet on Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch” program. Many of our local
fleet have been featured throughout the program. Here is an excerpt from Season 5 that paints a vivid picture of the dangers of crab fishing in
“The fleet receives a PAN PAN call that a fishing vessel has taken on water off Akutan Island. A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk arrives on scene to find the Icy Mist grounded on the western shore of Akutan.
The Jayhawk crew attempt to lower their rescue basket to the deck of the boat, but 50 mph (80 km/h) gusts force the crew to abort the rescue attempt. Radio communication is lost with the boat and the crew decides to attempt to go on shore using a line attached to a cod pot that was knocked off the deck and washed ashore. After all four crew members make it ashore and climb part way up a cliff, the Jayhawk lowers the rescue basket and hoists all four crew members to safety.
The rescued crew men are taken to Dutch Harbor as news of the rescue spreads across the fleet. Still in the middle of the storm, the Wizard has 15,000 pounds (6,800 kg) left in her quota. With terrible conditions out on deck, Captain Keith Colburn tells the crew to launch a pot, ready the next pot in the launcher, and then quickly return inside. The crew repeats this process until the last of her 20 pots are launched. The Northwestern is riding out the storm on the lee side of St. Paul. A radio call goes out that the Nuka Island, only 600 yards (550 m) behind the Northwestern, has rolled 90° to starboard. The Sea Star heads over to Nuka Island to assist, but Nuka Island ’s captain Norman Lennon has already stabilized the boat and no assistance is needed. The Wizard still finds herself in the storm after 20 hours, but her battles through the weather to haul the last pots of the season. Captain Keith decides that conditions are too hazardous and pulls the crew off the deck. Moments later, a 40-foot (12 m) wave crashes over the deck, causing the pots on deck to crash into the rail. When dawn breaks, Captain Keith orders the crew out to secure the deck and the pots. When the crew is slow to follow Captain Keith’s orders, he orders them inside for a pep talk to get them to move faster. Nine hours later, the crew pulls the last pot of the season from the sea. On board the Cornelia Marie, the storm has passed and Josh Harris is on the rail to throw the hook for the last string of the season to show his father, Captain Phil Harris, that he is ready to become a full share deck hand. Josh bets the crew a case of beer that he will not miss any of his throws with the hook. Captain Phil does not make things easy for Josh. On the second to last throw, Josh makes the toss, but drops the buoy when trying to hook it to the block. Josh says that was a “drop” not a “miss” so does not lose the bet. Captain Phil makes the last toss have to be a long one with the boat moving at a fast speed. Josh makes the difficult toss to the surprise of the crew. Captain Phil presents his son with a gold chain for the work he has done this past season. The fleet returns to their home ports until the next season. “ Taken from Discovery Channel, Season 5 Deadliest Catch.
Remember when you are buying crab, plan on 1 to 2 pounds per person if the crab is being served as a main meal. A simple way to crack the crab is to
cut the shell with a serrated knife across the middle of the leg and then snap the leg in half. The meat should be easy to pull out. This is a
really simple and fast process and certainly less messy than picking the meat out with a fork!
Our next blogs will cover a variety of topics, including how the Coast Guard positions its resources in the Bering Sea to provide cover for Alaska’s
fishing fleet. We will also focus on different ways to cook and present king crab. Stay tuned.
All the best from the Fish Market
Kodiak Fish Market