Skip to comments.Snow Crabs by the Millions Invade Barents King Crab Fishery
Posted on 02/15/2008 6:48:12 PM PST by JACKRUSSELL
Its an invasive species problem that Alaska would love to have. Millions of snow crabs are on the march in the Barents Sea, and no one knows how they got there or what to do with them yet.
The Barents Sea, which straddles Norway and Russia, is the same source of all of that jumbo king crab much of it caught illegally'a0 that wreaked havoc on Alaskas market for the past couple of years.
But unlike king crabs, which were purposely introduced by Russia into those waters in 1966, the opilio (snow) crab is a true invasive species. Longtime market analyst Ken Talley reports that no one is sure how the snow crab reached the Barents Sea. The first sightings appeared in the Russian zone in 1996.
"The most likely way, say scientists, is from ballast water in tankers that ply the waters," Talley wrote in his bi-monthly Seafood Trends newsletters.
According to Jan Sundet, a leading Norwegian scientist and crab expert, the snow crab stock is estimated at 10-12 million adults, similar to the abundance of the regions king crab.
No matter how they got there, the snow crabs are spreading fast.
"They are now routinely caught by Russian and Norwegian king crab fishermen," Talley said.
The Norwegians have no interest in such a fishery at this time, Talley added. Rather, they are worried about the environmental impacts of this invasive species on their traditional fisheries. By law, fishermen are forbidden from returning any snow crab back to the Barents Sea to keep them from spreading.
The Russians, on the other hand, appear more interested, Talley said.
"Currently, there are no official discussions or negotiations between Russia and Norway about a snow crab fishery," he added.
Scientists are asking for government funding for research and stock assessments on the Barents Sea snow crab. When and if the situation clarifies, a commercial fishery will develop, Talley predicts.
"Fishermen and marketers are watching the situation carefully," he said." The impact of a fishery with huge volumes of snow crab could roil the crab market just as Barents Sea red king crab has done."
Alaska supplies only about 10 percent to the U.S. snow crab market, which purchases roughly100 million pounds per year. The bulk of the catch comes from Russia and primarily, eastern Canada.
Deadliest catch? Think again.
It comes as a surprise that the most lethal fishery is not crabbing in the Bering Sea.
Pacific Fishing magazine reports that Dungeness crabbers in the Pacific Northwest have the highest fatality rate of them all 17 deaths in the past seven years.
Thats 50 percent higher than Bering Sea crabbers and four times the rate of all U.S. fisheries.
Labels are misleading.
Many popular foods claim they are "Made in America" but the stuff thats in them probably comes from elsewhere, notably China. Because of cheap labor and minimal environmental regulations, China now dominates the world market in vitamin supplements and other chemical food additives commonly used in American processed foods, such as stabilizers and emulsifiers.
But U.S. food makers are not required to disclose the source of the ingredients in their products, and that leads to lots of labeling loopholes.
"With raw materials, if a product is changed substantially, like breaded, it becomes a product of the U.S. no matter where the raw material comes from. So if youre interested in what the raw material is, there is really no way to tell," said Pat Shanahan, program director with the Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers marketing group. GAPP represents all Alaska shore-based and at-sea pollock producers.
To help ease the confusion for seafood buyers, GAPP uses its own prominent label to assure buyers of its origin.
"Our competing products are Alaska pollock that is caught in Russian waters. Its headed and gutted and frozen on board the Russian boats and shipped to China for further processing. But if that fish is given a crispy coating Stateside, the product you see on supermarket shelves will say Product of USA," Shanahan explained.
The same confusion applies to canned seafood. Companies can sell foreign or farmed canned salmon, for example, with the same labels as Alaska products. Because new labeling laws on country of origin dont apply to canned seafoods, customers cant tell if it is truly an Alaska product.
Certainly, most major food companies are rigorous about the ingredients they use. But at a time when the United States is importing more foods than ever, federal budget constraints have reduced inspections to less than 1 percent of all U.S. food imports.
I don’t give a shoot where they come from, or who’s invading whom — snow crab, I’ll eat ‘em!!!
It’s mother effen dinner time baby! GO GET SOME! YEAH!
Good news for Red Lobster!
yummmmy crab.....Has anyone seen the show Deadest catch?
once shipped to the American side, a substance would be added to make the liquid clear again.
then the liquid would be bottled and sold to distributors as vodka.
all the while, the russian importers would avoid import taxes.
i wonder if the russians, the chinese, or the American importers reap the greatest profit here.
People don't realize, or aren't smart enough to recognize, that a significant portion of their finished foods and medicines could be cut off in two weeks, not to mention virtually 100% of the luxury stuff.
They get more clams for King Crab than for Snow Crab. Maybe we should find a way to protect the more valuable King Crab stock from the Snow Crab invaders.
There is no way for a consumer to easily tell but I can guarantee there better be a lot numbered record of every 'ingredient' in every batch of foodstuff overseen by the USDA. They will know in the event of any recall...
Perhaps the UN could threaten to investigate the possibility of initiating research into a proposal to consider a non-binding resolution regarding sanctions against the invading species.
That’ll fix ‘em. Them d**n crabs won’t dare any further action.
Maybe we should clarify this situation.
Send lemon and butter.
Coincidentally to other things, we used to catch a few crabs that looked almost exactly like the ones you have in the photo. They were either snow crabs, or a close relative.
We'd only get a few at a time, or a few a day, not enough to establish a fishery. Instead, every night for dinner, besides whatever else was on the menu, was fresh crab salad. Big bowl, full of just ordinary iceberg lettuce, tomato, carrot, sharp cheddar, thickly covered with freshly cooked and shelled crab, then topped with ranch or vinaigrette. Sometimes I'd even open a bottle of good Paso Robles zinfandel, or cabernet.
We'd eat so much we could barely bend over enough to work, the next time we dumped the catch on deck.
Those were the days. It was a good boat to work on!
precooked crab is too salty. It’s garbage.
I have no problem whatsoever with crab legs.
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