Odyssey Seafoods (USA) leads a fishery improvement project (FIP) for Barents Sea crab. Crabs are not native to the Barents Sea ecosystem and were introduced after 1965. The red king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus) population expanded rapidly and today this species is harvested in trap/pot fisheries. Unlike most FIPs, this fishery harvests invasive species.Odyssey has sponsored the preliminary assessment of the fishery against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard. The red king crab fishery is managed together and separately by Norway and Russia and with three layers of governance is close to meeting the MSC standard.
Overview of the Status of the Crab Fisheries in the Barents Sea
Despite agreements during 2005-2007 to establish common principles of management of a new biological resource, both Norway and Russia managed fisheries for the red king crab stock separately within their respective economical zone, and agreed to inform each other about the national measures taken. In Norway, the main research goals have been to reveal the effects of red king crab on the ecosystem and to prevent its further distribution in Norwegian waters. In Russia, however, the main focus is on rational harvesting of the stock. In Norway, the crab fishery is subjected to two different regimes. In a limited commercial area east of 26o East, the crab stock is harvested as a sustainable commercial species; while outside this area there is a non regulated free fishery aiming to prevent further spreading of the crab. In the Russian zone, fishery regulations are still based on principles agreed upon with the Norway. Thus, fisheries for the red king crab stock are subjected to three different management principles: 1) in Russian waters they are based on elements of the precautionary approach; 2) in open Norwegian waters and to the west of North Cape, there is an open fishery to prevent spreading; and 3) in the fjords of eastern Finnmark the fishery is aimed to maintain a low stock level. See http://www.barentsportal.com/barentsportal/index.php/en/biotic-component...
Regarding the snow crab fishery in the Barents Sea, a commercial fishery started in 2013 and counts now 15 vessels fishing, representing different countries. The abundance increase and spread of the snow crab stock in the Barents Sea have taken place at a much higher rate than what was the case with the red king crab in this area. The snow crab is now distributed in the whole northern part of the Russian Economic Zone (REZ), parts of international waters, and is also observed in the Svalbard Fishery Protection Zone. Some crabs have also been observed in Finnmark. High concentrations of juvenile crabs are found in shallow waters along the northern coast of Novaja Zemlja, while large males and females seem to occupy deeper waters further west. Actually, the large males targeted in fishery seem to be in highest densities at the fringe of the distribution area; in the deeper western part. The catch is dominated currently by juveniles indicating successful recruitment and expansion.
Fishery access is tightly controlled by Norway around Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago, as they dispute a European Union claim of access rights to the resource around Svalbard. According to the media, Norway, which is not a member of the EU, has disputed decisions from Brussels authorizing European vessels from mainly Baltic nations to fish for crabs in the Svalbard area, saying it violates its national sovereignty. A Latvian ship called “The Senator” was intercepted by Norwegian coast guards while crab fishing around Svalbard and received a hefty fine. At issue are the EU and Norway’s conflicting interpretations of the 1920 Svalbard Treaty, which recognizes Norway’s “full and absolute sovereignty,” but gives the signatory nations an equal right to economic activities on Svalbard and its territorial waters. Oslo says the agreement applies only to the 12-mile limits and Brussels says it covers 200 miles around Svalbard. See https://www.undercurrentnews.com/2017/07/10/eu-norway-battle-over-barent...
The snow crab, first recorded in the Barents Sea in 1996, is an invasive, and more importantly, a sedentary species as it lives in permanent contact with the seabed. This means that the rules that apply to snow crabs are more similar to oil than to fishing, according to recent news in Japan News, a newspaper by Yomiuri Shinbun. Development of the fishery for snow crab may be slowed because the dispute could create a “precedent” that would have implications for oil and gas rights. See http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003809607
Odyssey Seafoods (USA) leads a fishery improvement project (FIP) for Barents Sea crab. Crabs are not native to the Barents Sea ecosystem and were introduced after 1965.
The FIP objectives are to encourage effective management in the Barents Sea crab fisheries toward meeting the standard for sustainable fisheries published by the Marine Stewardship Council by 2018.
FIP at a Glance