The King Crab season is in the fall months in the waters off the coast of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. The season is very short. The peak of the industry was in 1980. By 1983, it dropped by 90% in some places. Some think it was due to overfishing, the warmer waters, or possibly the increased fish predation.
It is of course very dangerous as we all know from watching the show. The fatality rate is considered to be 30 times that of the average worker. Most deaths are caused by drowning or hypothermia. Infuries are caused from working with the heavy machinery and gear and falling ice in the winter.
The red king crab is the most valued of the kings. There is also the blue crab, the golden and the scarlet. The boats all have quotas or IFQ which regulates how many pounds they can catch. When they set up the IFQ system the crab fleet shrank from over 250 boats to about 89 of mostly larger boats.
A box shaped pot is used to capture the crab. Each pot weighs about 600 to 800 pounds. Usually herring or codfish are used as bait to catch the king crab. Russian crab is being imported here and has caused a steady decline in the price of crab for Alaskan crab fishermen. Much of the foreign crab is reportedly caught and imported illegally.