This season on ‘Deadliest Catch’: Snow crabs go M.I.A.
Snow crab season is officially canceled in Alaska for the first time in history as billions (yes, that’s billions with a ‘B’) of crabs have disappeared from the treacherous cold waters of the Bering Sea. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game was forced to cancel the season due to the staggering 90% decline in population.
Alaska’s crab fishing industry is worth more than $200 million, and the state supplies 6% of the world’s king, snow, tanner, and Dungeness crabs. Male Alaska snow crabs can have shells up to six inches wide, while male King crabs are much larger. The cost of just one of these in a restaurant can cost hundreds of dollars. The population decline of male Snow crabs has been documented for years, but the virtual population crash is even more cause for concern.
Scientists don’t believe overfishing alone is the cause. Rather, warmer temperatures both on land and sea may be responsible for crustacean declines in recent years. The US Environmental Protection Agency recently reported that these increased temperatures may have forced the snow crabs to head further north or into deeper waters to survive.
Alaska is the fastest-warming state in the country, losing more and more ice each year. This makes it increasingly likely that devastating events like this will continue hurting local fishers, local wildlife, the American seafood industry, the US economy, and countless others.