Alaskan Shellfish never enter freshwater bodies, they carry out their entire life cycle in the ocean.
They inhabits the deep, clean and cold waters of the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea and represents a natural component of the ecosystem.
Throughout their life cycle, they feed on plankton, other crustaceans, mollusks, fish and marine organisms and are prey to larger predators. They are harvest year-round depending on the variety (see fishing season table).
Although Alaska is well-known for its three varieties of crabs (see Alaska Crab section), it is also home to an abundant variety of other shellfish that also inhabit its waters.
Clams (Geoduck, Horse, Razor, Steamer, Littleneck)
Alaska’s resources in the exploitation of the Clam are very underdeveloped, although the collection of hard and soft-shell clams is increasing. Two certified beaches are now home to the Pacific Clam Siliqua Patul and various species of hard-shell clams.
This delicately flavored, firm-fleshed mollusk (Haliotis kamtschatkana) is harvested with divers, primarily in the waters of Southeast Alaska. In season, it can be purchased fresh, and is also sold whole, frozen in its shell or vacuum packed (meat only).
Shrimp (Coonstripe, Pink, Sidestripe, Spot)
Shrimp fisheries in Alaska comprise four different species:
Most of Alaska’s production is made up of Small Pink Shrimp, ideal for appetizers or starters. Alaskan shrimp are usually frozen raw in their shell, quick frozen either in blocks or individually then packed in bags.
Common names: Pacific oyster, oyster
Specifications: Gray to purple color, hollowed-out shell with large striations radiating from the hinge, mauve or white flesh.
Harvest Area: Southern California to Kachemak Bay.
Fishing season and methods: Harvest year-round although some individual hatcheries, especially winter, have dry period when oysters are not available. They are obtained by suspension breeding.
Size: Length of the shells 5 to 12.5 cm.
The giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) is the largest species of octopus in the world. Its habitat extends along the American continental shelf of the North Pacific, from southern California to the Gulf of Alaska, along the Aleutian Islands and to southern Japan, at depths from the intertidal zone to 750 In Alaska, the giant octopus is fished in traps, mostly in the Gulf of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. Alaska processors remove the eyes, mouths and sometimes the head, freeze them in IQF or tray, and package them in plastic or paper bags.
Giant Pacific Scallops
Giant Pacific Scallops (Patinopecten caurinus) are collected throughout most of the year. They can be purchased fresh or frozen in blocks of 2 or 4 kg, individually quick frozen in 2 or 4kg plastic bags and in flat packs of the same weight (11 x 14 x 1). The most common sizes are 10-20 and 20-30 units, but it can vary.
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