Friday, April 5, 2013

Let's talk about crabs, baby!

Last week I had the fun opportunity to chat with Deadliest Catch fans about anything and all things crab! (This is the third time I've been able to chat using the Wheel House forum, so check out my past summaries here and here.) It's always fun and covers a lot of crab topics, so it's hard for me to answer all of the questions fully at once. So, for those of you who didn't get to participate in the chat and for those of you who did but want to know more, these are the top questions I will try to answer over the next few posts:

Who can fish Alaskan waters?

What was this season's C. opilio catch compared to last season's catch?

What was the largest snow crab ever caught?

Just how deep in the ocean do king crabs and snow crabs live? And how far can they travel within a year?

What's the difference between red and blue king crabs (aside from color)?

What is the red king crab distribution, and why are they considered an invasive species in Norway?

Is crab meat tested for contaminants before going to market?

Let's get the big picture: how do El Niño and La Niña affect the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska?

Last but not least, the most often talked about crab query: do crabs really fart?!? I promise to get to the bottom of this conundrum once and for all!

Captain Phil teaching us a thing or two

Phew! That's a lot of information, so let's get started!

Who can fish Alaskan waters?

Only vessels owned by United States citizens can fish in Alaskan waters. This doesn't mean that if you're not a citizen you can't fish here. Anyone who has been to Kodiak or Dutch Harbor knows that the fishing industry is a melting pot of cultures! Kimchi on hotdogs? Yes please! As long as the vessel is US owned and operated, it's good to go. (Oh snap, I threw in something kinda controversial! Anyone want to discuss vessels that are clearly NOT operated by US citizens? Anyone?)

What's considered 'Alaskan' as far as the water goes? The United Nations set up an Exclusive Ecomonic Zone (EEZ) which spans 200 nautical miles from a country's shoreline. This zone belongs to that country. Alaska has a pretty big EEZ since it has over 44,000 miles of coast (boom, biggest state for the win!):

Alaskan EEZ in the darker blue

You might notice a funny little half circle near Russia of unclaimed ocean. That's commonly referred to as the donut hole and is closed for fishing no matter where you're from. There are other areas where the distance between the two countries doesn't allow for both to have a 200 mile limit, so they, for the most part, go halvesies. Otherwise, they go to war! Just joking. Kind of.

There you have it! One question down, eight more to go!

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