UNALASKA (AP) -- High winds delayed the scheduled start of the Bristol Bay red king crab fishery.
Regulators decided to wait for 24 hours, or until the weather improved enough to allow Coast Guard helicopters to fly rescue missions.
This was the first Bristol Bay red king crab season ever postponed by rough weather, officials said.
Fisherman Larry Hendricks attributed the decision to increased safety concerns.
''It's a blessing, said Hendricks, who owns the vessel Sea Star. ''At least we prevent people from getting injured, and possibly any loss of life.''
Meanwhile, Crabbers with the Alaska Marketing Association accepted a price of $4.80 per pound from Unisea Seafoods over the weekend. Other processors were expected to match that price, Marketing Association President Gary Stewart said.
The fishermen decided against striking by a 70-53 vote Saturday night, despite grumbling about prices down from last year's record $6.26 a pound because of expected high demand for the six-pound-average crustaceans at Y2K New Year's parties.
But some of the processors overestimated the millenium demand and lost money after paying the higher price, Alaska Marketing official Jake Jacobsen said.
Fish and Game biologist Rance Morrison was predicting that the 7.7 million-pound open access quota would be harvested within five days.
A fleet of 256 boats was working the fishery, about the same number as a year ago.
The Community Development Quota fishery brings the total quota to 8.35 million pounds.
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