Mixed crab supply situation


The report analyses the market situation until September 2017

The supply of king crab and snow crab appears to be mixed, with snow crab resources in the Barents Sea growing, while Canadian stocks are declining. The Dungeness crab fishery on the US west coast has been delayed again. 


Snow crab stocks in the Barents Sea are growing. Ocean researchers have identified three new crab fields northwest of Spitsbergen this year. According to these researchers, there will be snow crab throughout this region within ten years. They have suggested increasing the quota to between 4 000 and 5 500 tonnes next year. However, the crab fishermen claim they will not be able to fill the quota. The 2017 quota for snow crab in Norway is 4 000 tonnes, but only 2 800 tonnes were landed by November 13.

Canada doubled the TAC for snow crab in the Gulf of St. Lawrence this year, to 43 822 tonnes. Most of this quota was filled by mid-July. The Gulf of St. Lawrence is the bright spot for the Canadian snow crab arena. Elsewhere in Canada, in Newfoundland the crab resource is declining and it is expected to continue to decline. The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) cut the 2017/2018 TAC for the Newfoundland and Labrador crab fishery by 22 percent, to 35 419 tonnes, which caused prices to rise from about CAD 7.00 per pound to over CAD 8.00 per pound.

In 2016, the California dungeness crab fishery was hampered by the presence of domoic acid toxin. Earlier in 2017, the situation was reported to be better. Now it is reported that the fishery in California could be delayed again because of new occurrences of this toxin.

The dungeness crab season in Oregon has also been delayed, due to low meat yields. The season was expected to start on 1 December, but it has been deferred until at least the end of the month, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW).

International trade

Total world imports of crab increased slightly (+1.5 percent) to 294 000 tonnes during the first three quarters of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. The main importers were the USA (91 700 tonnes), China (59 900 tonnes), Republic of Korea (29 800 tonnes) and Japan (29 200 tonnes). There were significant differences from country to country. Republic of Korean and Japanese imports fell by 8.1 and 16.7 percent, respectively, while Chinese imports increased by 23.2 percent to almost 60 000 tonnes, and Thai imports rose by 58.1 percent to 12 700 tonnes, during this period.

Two of the most significant exporters of crab were the Russian Federation and China. In the Russian Federation, exports of crab rose by almost 29 percent, to 44 000 tonnes, during the first nine months of 2017. The main market was the Republic of Korea, with as much as 70 percent of these exports. In contrast, Chinese exports fell by 9.4 percent during the same period. The Republic of Korea imported less Chinese crab, while Taiwan Province of China imported slightly more.


In the Barents Sea, landings of king crab in the Russian Federation and in Norway have been good, lowering the prices from about USD 30 per kg to USD 20 per kg. Canadian prices also went down, from USD 17.60 per kg after the Alaska season to about USD 15.40 per kg later. Prices are expected to stay low until the end of the year, when the fishing season in the Russian Federation ends. For the smaller edible crab (Cancer pagurus) prices were increasing in December 2017, due to limited supply, reaching EUR 3.00 per kg.

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