UNALASKA (AP) -- Snow crab fishermen agreed to a price of $1.85 a pound for top quality crab on Thursday, two days before Saturday's opener in the Bering Sea. The price is more than double the amount processors paid last year.
Alaska Marketing Association manager Jake Jacobsen said all eight buyers agreed to the top price for crab still in the shell, and all but one agreed to $1.00 a pound for barnacle-covered ''dirty shell'' crab from which the meat is extracted and canned overseas.
While some fishermen urged a strike for $2 per pound, leaders of the marketing association said their bargaining power this year was weakened by a greatly reduced quota of 28.5 million pounds, down from 196 million last year. They said non-striking fishermen would scoop up too much while strikers stayed in port.
And for the first time, the group lacks the support of the majority of the fleet of 230 boats.
AMA President Gary Stewart said just 110 boats have paid their dues this year, down from 190 last year. He said some crabbers are having financial difficulties, compounded by the likely closure of the snow crab fishery next year.
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