Why are Alaskan King Crabs so Expensive?


There are no easy steps involved in making a meal out of King Crab. Compared to other Alaska seafood species, the task can seem downright absurd. Below are a few points on why this is no casual fare:

  • Crabbing is dangerous – the crab is harvested during the fall over a period of 2-3 months in the rough, freezing waters of Alaska
  • It’s scarce – supply is regulated by a quote to protect the sustainability of the fishery
  • Each crab is at least 7-9 years old before it reaches legal size for retention
  • Each crab will travel thousands of miles before it ends up on anyone’s plate




There are three species of King Crab commercially harvested in Alaska. Brown (aka golden), blue, and red. Caught in the waters of Bristol Bay and Norton Sound, the true red King Crab is the most prized species of crab in the world, with strong demand from consumers in Japan, the US, and Europe. Alaska’s largest harvest of red King Crab takes place in the waters of Bristol Bay. Roughly 100 boats participate in the fishery and harvest millions of pounds over a period of 2 to 3 months.



King Crab has been available since the late 1800’s when the first King Crab fishery started in Alaska. In 2005, the fishery regulation switched from a derby style approach to a pointed quota system by boat. Unmatched in size, quality and appearance, Alaska king crab is amongst the most prized of seafood species.


Prized for its snow-white body and leg meat, it has a sweet, rich flavor and tender texture. The slight red membrane over the meat helps to lock in moisture. Most of the crab goes into Japan where it is a prized commodity for the Japanese culture.


Discovery Channel show – The Deadliest Catch, popularized the fishery and although it hasn’t necessarily increased the price of the crab, it has added a great appreciation for consumers and some notoriety to the industry.


Article adapted from Exclusive Alaska.