Harvesting Alaska Crab Deckhand Jobs on a Crab Boat

Crabbing offers more challenge, danger, and usually more money than other fishing industry jobs. Deckhands often make $50,000 or more for six months of work. Typical crab boats have a skipper and 4-10 crew members, but because the fishery peaks in mid-winter and takes place mainly in the frigid waters of the Bering Sea, crabbing jobs are not open to greenhorns. Every year Alaska loses a few crab fishermen to the treacherous waters of the Bering Sea.

Alaska King Crab Pots stacked on Dock

Newcomers usually first gain experience while fishing for salmon during the summer months. If the lifestyle appeals to them, they move on to winter crabbing, and if that doesn’t deter them, they start shopping for boats. Meeting skippers while salmon fishing is the best way to line up work on a crab boat. Experienced deckhands can also try dock stomping. The Alaska crabbing fleet is concentrated around Kodiak Island, the Bering Sea, and Dutch Harbor.

Crabs are caught primarily in Regions 1, 4, and 5. All three types of crab – king, opilio, and bairdi – are harvested in Regions 1 and 5, while Alaska king crabs alone are the main catch in Region 4.

For a complete list of crabbing vessels (including detailed profiles of each), go to AlaskaJobFinder.com.

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