Crabbers sit out opener in dispute over prices

Posted: Tuesday, January 16, 2001

UNALASKA (AP) -- The Bering Sea snow crab fishery opened at noon Monday, but most of the fleet was tied up at port in a price dispute.

Fishermen rejected an offer Saturday of $1.37 per pound from Royal Aleutian Seafoods in Unalaska. It was the only offer made.

Fishermen have said they want at least the same price as last year, or $1.85 a pound.

''It really helped unite our membership,'' said Gary Stewart, president of the Alaska Marketing Association. ''They were strong, anyway, but there's always a fringe element that's willing to go fishing for any price and trust their processor.

''But that got their attention, and there wasn't anybody in the fleet that's willing to fish for $1.37 a pound.''

Fishermen were hoping they'd get another offer Tuesday.

The state Department of Fish and Game said 211 vessels were registered to harvest the 25.3 million-pound open-access quota. That includes catcher-processors, which often ignore strikes.

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