There are three species of king crab in Alaska- red king crab, blue king crab, and brown king crab. They are found in different areas of Alaskan waters. Most of the king crab harvested in Alaska comes from the Bering Sea. There are smaller fisheries to the north in Norton Sound and in the southeast.
In 1980, at the peak of the king crab industry, Alaskan fisheries produced up to 200 million pounds of crab. By 1983, the total size of the catch had dropped by up to 90% in some places. As a result the current season is very short. In the winter season, 250 boats can catch 14 million pounds of red king crab in four days.
Alaskan crab fishing is very dangerous, and the fatality rate among the fishermen is about 90 times the fatality rate of the average worker. It is suggested that, on average, one crab fisherman dies weekly during the seasons.
There is also an effort to crack down on the illegal harvest of the valuable crustacean at a time of diminished supplies and record-high prices. There are stiff fines imposed for those who are caught.