On October 10, 2022, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced that it was closing the Bering Sea for snow crab catching for the 2022-2023 season. The Bering Sea is a body of water that separates the southern part of Alaska from Russia, and it is home to a busy fishing operation.
This is the first time in state history that Alaska has cancelled snow crab season, and it is happening for good reason. According to experts, between 2018 and 2022 the snow crab population in the Bering Sea dropped from eight billion down to one billion. That’s a loss of seven billion crab, a decline of close to 90%.
It’s not the only crab closure for Alaska this year. King crab season in Bristol Bay — along the eastern part of the Bering Sea — closed for the first time in 25 years back in 2021, and it is closed again in 2022.
Experts in Alaska point to heatwaves in 2018 and 2019 that warmed the waters in the area. That warmer water has an impact on crab in different ways. Diseases that impact crab become more common. Crab also have to burn more energy to stay alive in warmer temperatures. And young crab need colder temperatures to hide from their natural predators.
Those same experts add that overfishing is not big factor in the decline.
How Will Aldi Be Affected?
The crab market has been volatile the last two years. Prices rose sharply in 2021 because of the pandemic, but they dropped off in 2022. The rise of worldwide inflation in 2022 caused overseas buyers in Japan and China to reduce their buying, and demand in the United States has also fallen off as prices have risen in other areas.
Some crab sellers are worried about the impact the closing of Alaska’s snow crab season will have on the market, but because there are other factors in play, it may be too early to say.
We haven’t seen a lot of crab at Aldi the last couple of years, unless you count the occasional crab cakes. Between the pandemic changing buying habits in 2020-2021 and the onset of supply chain issues and inflation in 2021-2022, Aldi has probably had a few reasons not to put crab legs in its freezers. Now that the world market is facing a drop in crab leg supply, that trend may well continue into 2023.