King Crab History

In only a few generations, the King Crab fishery in Alaska has survived through many many perils and profits

The History Of King Crab Fishing in Alaska

1930-04-02 18:59:57

Japanese King Crab Canning

Japanese used tangle nets and small schooners to harvest King Crab from the Being Sea

1941-04-02 18:59:57

Bering Sea Beginings

Numerous attempts at harvesting King Crab in the Bering Sea were met with little success.

1948-04-02 18:59:57

Nick Bez's F/V Pacific Explorer

The Pacific Explorer worked the Bering Sea with a dozen Puget Sound draggers supplying crab. The techniques learned here set the stage for the next ten years of crabbing.

1952-12-06 00:12:05

Steel Pots Instead Of Tangle Nets

Fishermen began experimenting with pots (traps) similar to ones used in the Dungeness Can- cer magister crab fishery on the West Coast. The small, round pots of the Dungeness fishery were quickly swept away by Alaska's strong tidal currents. After a period of experimentation, crab fishermen developed a large rectangular pot that was resistant to the currents. The pots in use today are similar to those developed in the 1950s. Measuring six feet square and three feet high, they were constructed with a steel frame covered with mesh webbing, and weighed about 300 pounds. Today's pots range in size from five feet by five feet to ten feet by ten feet and weigh up to 800 pounds empty.

1958-04-02 18:59:57

Russians Enter Fishery

The former Soviet Union enters the fishery

1960-04-02 18:59:57

Adak Fishery Begins

Cannery switches to King Crab Operation

1961-04-02 18:59:57

Dutch Harbor

Harvest of red king crab in Dutch Harbor begins

1964-03-02 18:59:57

Bilateral Fishing Agreement

U.S. arranges bilateral fishing agreements with Japan and U.S.S.R.

1964-03-27 13:19:13

Tsunami Devastates Kodiak.

Columbia Ward Cannery Destroyed

1964-12-02 18:59:57

Adak Fishery Peak

Adak fishery peaks at 21 million pounds (9,525 metric tons)

1966-03-02 18:59:57

Dutch Harbor Peak

Dutch Harbor harvest peaks at 33 million pounds (14,969 metric tons)

1966-03-27 18:59:57

Madre Dolorosa Sinks

The crabber Madre Doloros sank off Bear Island off Uyak Bay in 1966. Bob Moody raised it in 1967. He tells how it was a challenge since 1) the bow was slammed into the mud and 2) it was 150 feet down and required extra time for diving and decompression. Finally, he used old canning retortes from the Shearwater Cannery as "balloons" to raise the vessel. The Madre Dolorosa went on to fish crab in Kodiak another 15 years.

1966-04-02 18:59:57

Peak Production

A total volume of 159 million pounds of raw crab was harvested by the Alaskan fleet. It yielded almost 320,000 cases of canned crab meat and over 37 million pounds of frozen products with a total wholesale value listed by the State of Alaska at $44,458,000.

1966-04-30 13:19:13

Peggie Jo Built

Pacific Fisherman hailed her as "the first U.S. vessel ever built specifically to fish for King crab." She was big for her day --- capable of carrying 100 pots and packing 12,000 live crab. The yellowing magazine copy tells us that she was equipped with the latest electronics including "a loran set which enables the skipper to establish his bearings electronically". An earlier article trumpeted another innovation, "An unusual feature of 'Peggy Jo' is the articulated hydraulic boom mounted in the middle of the main deck working area." Built at Martinolich Shipyard in Tacoma, the new vessel carried a 850 hp Caterpillar D-398 in her engine room.

1969-03-02 18:59:57

US Replaces Foreign Fisheries

U.S. replaces foreign fisheries

1974-03-02 18:59:57

Foreign Fisheries Cease

Foreign fisheries cease

1976-04-13 18:59:57

Magnuson Act

The Magnuson Act followed passage of other laws dedicated to addressing the environmental damage incurred after decades of unfettered industrialization. These laws include the National Environmental Policy Act (1969), the Clean Air (1970) and Clean Water (1972) acts, and the Marine Mammal Protection (1972) and Endangered Species (1973) acts. Along with newly established agencies to implement them -- the Environmental Protection Agency and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

1977-03-02 18:59:57

Foreign Fisheries Ban

Secretary of Commerce adopts and implements a Preliminary Fishery Management Plan for the foreign king and Tanner crab fisheries in the eastern Bering Sea, banning foreign fishing for king crab

1977-03-02 18:59:57

Bristol Bay Record Seasons

Bristol Bay experiences all-time record landings, peaking at 129.9 million pounds (58,922 metric tons)

1979-03-02 18:59:57

Norton Sound Peak

Commercial landings peak in Norton Sound at 3 million pounds (1,361 metric tons)

1980-03-02 18:59:57

King Crab Collapse

Fishery crashes, possibly due to overfishing, predation, and changing environmental conditions. The top four historical producing areas are completely closed to red king crab fishing for the first time. Red king crab populations have remained depressed statewide, except in Southeast Alaska, since 1983.

1983-04-30 13:19:13

Huge Declines In King Crab

King crab fishing stocks drop almost sixty-fold – over-fishing and environmental changes identified as root causes. Warmer waters boosted the volumes of king crab predators (pollock and cod), causing the number of juvenile crabs to significantly decrease.

1988-03-27 18:59:57

Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Act of 1988.

Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Act of 1988.

1994-03-27 18:59:57

Bristol Bay Fishery Closed

No fishery in Bristol Bay

1996-03-27 18:59:57

Bristol Bay Harvest Reduced to 10%

Harvest rate for Bristol Bay crabs was reduced to 10% of the mature males to allow stock rebuilding

1999-10-27 18:59:57

Pribilof Islands Red Crab Fishery Closed

Pribilof Islands red king crab fishery closed

2005-05-06 13:29:11

Deadliest Catch Premieres

The ultimate saga of the sea. The show's success helps to bring a new found fame to the fishery.

2005-10-27 18:59:57

Crab Rationalization Program

Crab Rationalization Program implemented

2006-04-30 13:19:13

Fishing Under Crab Rationalization

250 boats land 14 million pounds of red king crab in four days

King Crab History

Copy this timeline Login to copy this timeline 3d

Contact us

We'd love to hear from you. Please send questions or feedback to the below email addresses.

Before contacting us, you may wish to visit our FAQs page which has lots of useful info on Tiki-Toki.

We can be contacted by email at:

You can also follow us on twitter at

If you are having any problems with Tiki-Toki, please contact us as at:


Edit this timeline

Enter your name and the secret word given to you by the timeline's owner.

3-40 true Name must be at least three characters
3-40 true You need a secret word to edit this timeline

Checking details

Please check details and try again