source: TIME, Aug 4th, 1947
Into Bellingham, Wash, from its maiden voyage last week chugged a sturdy 140-ft. trawler with a new kind of catch. In the Deep Sea’s hold, frozen and packaged, were 150,000 pounds of king crab, the first to be caught commercially by any U.S. fishermen. As a result of the Deep Sea’s venture, the U.S. fishing industry may be able to take over a onetime Japanese monopoly.
The king crab, which often measures up to five feet between claw tips and weighs about 15 pounds, is tenderer than lobster, less oily than crab. The crabs are caught chiefly in trawl nets dragged over flat bottom areas of the North Pacific.
King crabs were first canned and sold commercially by the Japanese, who managed to stifle all competition by using “floating canneries” and cheap labor, and disregarding other nations’ territorial fishing rights. From 1931 until 1940, the Japanese sold $27 million worth of king crab in the U.S. alone.
After the war, Russian fishermen prepared to take over where the Japs left off. They were snagged by a presidential proclamation forbidding foreigners to fish in the territorial waters of the Bering Sea off Alaska, best king-crabbing grounds.
To fish in this sea, Deep Sea Trawlers, Inc. was formed by Lowell Wakefield, 37, son of an Alaskan salmon packer. President Wakefield, bespectacled and professorial-looking even in dungarees, designed and patented the Deep Sea’s freezing equipment to process the crabs afloat, had the Deep Sea built to his specifications. He thought the first trip mighty encouraging.
The Deep Sea’s first catch was worth some $110,000. Deep Sea Trawlers hopes to set up a regular schedule of one round trip every eight weeks, eventually sell its crabs all over the U.S.