Earlier this year, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game cancelled fishing seasons for red king crab, blue king crab, and opilio snow crab. The decision comes on the heels of a trawl survey, which revealed that crab stock is far below the threshold for safe fishing. Since 2019, an estimated one billion crabs have mysteriously disappeared. This number represents a 90% drop in their population.
What does this mean for holiday gatherings? Will people be able to buy crab legs to celebrate the New Year? Here’s what you need to know about the cancelled king and snow crab season.
How this Affects Crab Leg Availability
The King and Snow crab purchased in the United States comes from the Bering Sea. The U.S. Bering Sea crabbing season is cancelled, but other nations are still fishing for king and snow crab. King crabs, in particular, live all over the world. Russia, Japan, and some South American countries will continue to source crab legs.
So, while the crab leg supply will be severely limited this year, buying legs will still be possible.
How Crab Season Will Shift Pricing
King and snow crab prices nearly doubled in price last year. Prices have continued to rise throughout 2022. Now, customers can expect to spend around 25% more on king and snow crab this holiday season. Price changes will vary by provider. In general, crab legs will be expensive and tough to come by.
How to Buy Crab Legs in 2022
If you want snow and/or king crab legs this holiday season, you can still get them. Just expect to pay more for less crab. Additionally, because of the limited availability, get your orders in as early as possible. Crab legs are shipped frozen, and they will remain safe to eat for up to three months if left unthawed. If you’re planning to enjoy crab legs on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Day, get your order in now and clear out some space in your freezer.
Snow and King Crab Alternatives
For some, the snow and king crab prices will be too much to justify the purchase. Luckily, there are some alternatives that will capture the festive spirit of the season – without breaking the bank. Here are some of our favorites.
- Shrimp Cocktail: Shrimp cocktail is an accessible and affordable celebratory seafood dish. What’s more elegant than holding a martini glass and enjoying fresh seafood?
- Oysters on the Half Shell: Nothing says “Let’s Celebrate” quite like oysters on the half shell. Oyster prices haven’t budged much in recent months, so cost should be relatively predictable. Enjoy them raw, baked, or grilled.
- Festive Seafood Platter: Upgrade your charcuterie to reflect your love of seafood. Combine all of your seafood favorites in a festive display. Consider adding smoked salmon, smoked trout, cooked prawns or shrimp, capers, mustard, and crackers.
- The American crab leg season has been cancelled, but legs will still be available from international distributors.
- Expect to pay around 25% more for crab legs this holiday season.
- Order early to ensure suppliers don’t run out.
- Consider festive alternatives to crab legs, like oysters and shrimp cocktail.
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