The 2002 harvest of the Bering Sea commercial snow crab (opilio) is already believed to have topped the 16-million-pound mark, amounting to 56% of the open access quota.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game revealed the estimate after recording that 15.9-million-pound had been harvested by 100 vessels between noon 15 January and 6am on Sunday, 27 January.

The total quota available in the open access Bering Sea snow crab fishery amounts to 28.51 million pounds, however the fishery holds an additional 2.31 million pounds of quota available to the Community Development Quota (CDQ) fishery once the open access fishery ends.

Last year’s quota was 27.3 million pounds, similar to that of 2000 but only a fraction of the 194 million pounds harvested in 1999.

According to according to trade statistics released on Friday by the National Marine Fisheries Service, US cold storage holdings of snow crab sections totalled 10.2 million pounds at the end of last December, 25% down year on year.

Meanwhile, snow crab imports in November totaled 4.5 million pounds, representing a 26%  increase on the volume imported in November 2000.