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Image: Marine Research Institute / FIS

Damaged king crab could lead to overfishing

Click on the flag for more information about Norway NORWAY
Wednesday, May 31, 2023, 07:00 (GMT + 9)

In the quota-regulated area east of the Nordkapp, 10 per cent damaged male crab is permitted in king crab catches. So far this year, the proportion is over 20 per cent, which could lead to overfishing of the quota and reduced quotas next year.

Source: Fiskeridirektoratet / Wiki / FIS

In many cases, the injured crab will be viable, and the fishermen must then release the crabs that exceed the by-catch rule back into the sea. It is still possible to deliver 10 per cent damaged crab together with the blemish-free crab without this being settled against the individual vessel quota. Until last year, the proportion of injured crabs was at the desired level.

Remuneration provides profitability

In the case of delivery of more than 10 per cent damaged crab, the catch value will be confiscated by the sales team. The fishermen will, however, be able to receive a landing fee, and as the price is high, this will provide an incentive to deliver more damaged crab than the permitted 10 per cent. So far this year, catch data show that the proportion of damaged crab delivered to reception is 22 per cent, which is more than twice as large a percentage as at this time last year

Photo: Fiskeribladet

Catch data show that there is a relatively small number of vessels that more or less systematically deliver more damaged crab than the permitted percentage.

"The Directorate of Fisheries encourages the fishermen to clarify the classification of the crab with the buyers and sort so that the permitted proportions are complied with. If the behavior does not change when fishing starts again, we will have to consider more intrusive measures", says divisional director for management in the Directorate of Fisheries, Jon-Erik Henriksen.

May mean a reduced quota

This trend means that far more king crabs will probably be brought ashore in the quota-regulated area than this year's set total quota.

"If this trend continues, the quota for 2023 will be significantly overfished. This could reduce next year's total quota and the vessel quota will be lower for everyone with participant access, which will reduce the catch value for everyone next year. The damaged crab that is landed this year has a significantly lower price, so that the financial gain is not close to making up for next year's loss", says Henriksen.

Relatively few

The reduction in value will be further reinforced as a result of the authorities then having to set aside an increased proportion of the total quota for fishing for damaged crab. This will further reduce the vessel quotas for everyone.

"Most of the vessels that fish for king crab in the quota-regulated area have so far stuck to around 10 per cent damaged crab. We thus risk that the behavior of relatively few fishermen will have negative consequences for all king crab fishermen", says Henriksen. 

Source: Fiskeridirektoratet (Traslated from the original in Norwegian)

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