Alaska Department of Fish and Game
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Shellfish Commercial Fisheries
Alaska is famous for its king crab, which includes four species in Alaska: red, blue, golden, and scarlet. Red king crab are the predominant king crab in commercial harvests, with the largest harvests coming from Bristol Bay and smaller harvests coming from Southeast Alaska, Norton Sound, and the Adak area. Historically, very large harvests came from the Kodiak area, but that fishery has failed to recover since being closed in 1983. Several other once important king crab fishing grounds are also now closed due to conservation concerns. Other commercially important crabs include golden king crabs, Tanner crabs, snow crabs, and Dungeness crabs.
Alaska's commercial fisheries produce large volumes of shellfish, including several types of crab and various shrimp. Commercial fishermen also harvest scallops, clams, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, octopus, and squid, and these species are defined as "miscellaneous shellfish" in state regulations. More information about commercial harvest of sea cucumbers, sea urchins and geoduck clams can be found in the dive fisheries section. All commercial shellfish fisheries in state and federal waters of Alaska are managed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
There are small shrimp trawl fisheries in Southeast Alaska and Prince William Sound and the Kodiak area, and a large pot fishery for the spot prawns occurs in Southeast Alaska.
Weathervane scallops, the world's largest commercial species, are dredged by a small fleet working historic beds from the Eastern Gulf of Alaska near Yakutat to the Bering Sea. Commercial clam fisheries in Alaska include a dive fishery for Geoduck clams in Southeast Alaska and intertidal fisheries for hard shell clams, principally littleneck clams and razor clams in Cook Inlet. More information about dive fisheries is available. Commercial harvests of octopus and squid occur in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska, primarily as bycatch in other fisheries.
Octopus & Squid
Besides crab, shrimp, and scallops, the State of Alaska also regulates harvests of other invertebrates, including three species of echinoderms (sea cucumbers, red urchins, and green urchins), various clams, as well as octopus and squid. Sea cucumbers, urchins, and geoduck clams are harvested by divers. Beach clams, including razor and little-neck clams, are dug from the intertidal by hand, whereas octopus and squid are taken as bycatch in pots and trawls, respectively.