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Edible crab in Northern Ireland waters (ICES areas 6a and 7a), pots and traps

fish

Cancer pagurus

Content last updated
2nd Oct 2017

Stock:
Edible crab in Irish Sea

Management:
Northern Ireland fisheries management

Overview

Edible crab, Cancer pagurus can be found from Scandinavia to Portugal between the shoreline and depths in excess of 100m, but more commonly shallower than 40 m. Stock boundaries for edible crab remain poorly understood and both sexes move quite widely at times; females in particular have been shown to travel large distances in relation to spawning activity. Growth is dependent on the frequency of moulting and it typically takes about four or five years for a juvenile crab to grow to commercial size (130-160mm MLS, see stock management section).  Male (or cock) size range is from 50-270 mm reaching sexual maturity at 110 mm, female (or hen) size range is 50-190 mm reaching sexual maturity at 115 mm with a growth rate of 1-10 mm/year (Cappell et al., 2011).  Fecundity of edible crabs is very high; ranging from around 0.5 million eggs up to 2-3 million eggs for edible crabs of >180mm carapace width (Cefas unpublished data). The biggest recorded crab was of 270 mm (MARLIN 2014). The species is thought to live up to about 20 years old. Mating activity peaks in the summer when the female has moulted with spawning occurring in the late autumn or winter. Egg carrying females are largely inactive over the winter brooding period and eggs hatch in the spring and early summer. After around five weeks in the plankton, the crab larvae settle on the seabed.

This profile is for Edible crab from the inshore waters around Northern Ireland. It is comprised of ICES statistical rectangles surrounding Northern Ireland (6a and 7a).

Stock Status

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The edible crab stock in the Irish Sea has been scored a moderate risk. Although there is no stock information, edible crab has a low vulnerability to exploitation.

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Management

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Stock management of edible crabs in Northern Ireland waters has been scored a moderate risk. Management measures are in place, but consist primarily of technical measures (i.e. MLS), and may be insufficient to prevent over-exploitation. MLS is enforced at sea and dockside, all vessels submitting logbooks and larger vessels subject to VMS.

Processors may also apply quality controls to landings.

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Bycatch

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The bycatch risk of this fishery has been scored as Low risk. This is because significant discarding of undersized and unwanted crabs and lobster occurs, but these are released alive through ‘escape gaps’ or discarded on hauling and survival rates are believed to be high. Catch of Protected, Endangered and Threatened (PET) species is minimal. “Ghost fishing” by lost pots is not considered to be a problem.

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Habitat

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The habitat risk of this fishery has been scored as low risk. This is because evidence suggests fishery impact on the bottom is restricted to some abrasion caused by dragging pots and anchors during hauling and tide and wave action (Grieve et al., 2014). The static gear used to prosecute the fishery is in contact with the bottom, but unlikely to have significant interaction with vulnerable habitats. Vulnerable marine habitats are protected within Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR, 2013) and any kind of fishery there might be controlled if deemed necessary.

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Outlook

Type Current Risk Status Outlook Reason

Stock

Moderate Stable

Assumed to be stable, though there is some uncertainty.

Management

Moderate Stable

There are management controls in place, and these are unlikely to change.

Bycatch

Low Stable

Habitat

Low Stable

Nutritional Information

 
Energy
85 (kcal)
4%*
LOW
Fat
0.3 (g)
4%*
LOW
Saturates
0.04 (g)
Tr%*
LOW
Sugar
0 (g)
0%*
 
Salt
0.8 (g)
13%*

*per 100g

Nutrition information from 100g cooked white meat

Rich in Protein | Vitamin B12 | Pantothenic acid | Copper | Zinc | Selenium | Iodine

Good Source Of Omega-3 | Riboflavin | Biotin | Vitamin E | Phosphorus

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