Crab Rationalization: A perspective from an Alaskan

Crab Rationalization is the change in crab fishing regulations that took place in 2005. For “Deadliest Catch” fans, season one was the last crab fishing season of “Derby” style fishing, where fishing vessels and crews literally raced out unto the Bering sea to catch as much crab as possible before the end of the season was announced. Starting in season 2, you may have noticed that the crab fishing fleet was reduced from approximately 250 fishing vessels to 80 or so. That was the immediate effect of a voluntary fishing boat sell out and crab rationalization (where each boat is given an IFQ or Individual Fishing Quota to fish based on their average catch from previous years). There are many other details to crab rationalization that are unpleasant to fishermen, Alaskans, and people who care about the Alaska fisheries. For one, fishermen aren’t allowed to unload or sell their harvest to the highest bidder, they must hand over 90 percent of their catch to a pre-specified harvester. Another unpleasant tidbit–many dedicated and career deckhands lost their jobs because crab rationalization didn’t award them any quota at all…

Terry Haines of Kodiak, Alaska, and writer for AlaskaReport, is an insider to the fishing industry and has written his own persective about the injustice of crab rationalization and what it’s done to crab fishermen. If you have a minute, take a look…

The Deadliest Earmark

The Dark and Dirty Side of the Bering Sea Story You Won’t See on the Discovery Channel

By Terry Haines
It happened in Dutch Harbor/Unalaska, the Aleutian Twin Cities. “Dutch” is a large rock just west of Kodiak, conveniently situated like a freeway off ramp on the Great Circle Route and smack dab in the middle of the world’s most vital and productive seas. Most of the town’s hotels, restaurants and bars are owned by Unisea, the same Japanese seafood corporation that owns the sprawling complex of condos, cafeterias, fish warehouses and docks that surround and dwarf the city’s tiny public boat harbor. The internationally imported workers who work for the couple of multimillion dollar Japanese processing plants far outnumber the native residents of the ancient village. It is a company town at the edge of the world.

The Dark and Dirty Side of the Bering Sea Story You Wont See on the Discovery Channel

And it was here, in 2002, far from prying eyes, that the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council gathered to give away a piece of America.

We have all watched it. Wintertime in the Bering Sea, as seen on TV. Far offshore hundred foot boats hauled the deadliest catch over icy rails for armchair clutching audiences. What the deckhands didn’t know as they caught crab for the cameras was that in Dutch Harbor comfortable men sitting around folding tables had captured something from them. Their very way of life, and three quarters of their paychecks…

Please read the rest after the jump

This entry was posted in Alaska, Crab Fisheries, Crab Rationalization, Crabbing History and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Crab Rationalization: A perspective from an Alaskan

  1. Jen says:

    I’m afraid this is the new way of doing things. I watched it happen here in Eureka, CA. Call it rationalization or attrition, it puts fishermen out of business.
    Let me just say that there may come a day we regret rejecting those who have risked their very lives to bring us the fish on our tables.
    Like farmers, their demise may mark ours. Just sayin’.

  2. Observer says:

    This is the worst tripe I have heard in a while. I understand Terrys opinion, but he is only telling half the story, and it is slanted to make people believe something was stolen from america, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. Anything that would reduce the injury and death rate involved in Crab Fishing in the Bering Sea, is an improvement. An lets not forget the Bering Sea is not located in Alaska it is located off the coast. An is american fishing grounds not Alaskan so if the Feds like the program, and the fleet likes it, more power to them.

  3. mike says:

    Crab Rationalization saving lives is nonsense. Ban this fishing completly saves lives. Lets not fool ourselves greed wins over the “little guy” The typical responce of Capt. Keith (wizard) screams selfish. He likes it because hes still making big money. Given the fact 1,000 workers lost their job dosent concern him at all. If Capt. keith was on the other end he would be outraged. Save lives, stop the fishing madness completly. Whats more important a fancy menu or a human life? Ask the captain then about human lives. I bet he hops the fence real quick when it comes to human life and his wallet.
    I like many watch the T.V. show and admire the courage. I seen this very same Captain almost kill part of his crew. Doing something I have never seen on any ship to date. Climbing on pots to cover them in 40 ft. seas. That was one reason I knew I didnt respect the guy. Hypocrisy is the second.

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