It looks somewhat grim, but it's taste is exquisite. Snow crab is assumed to represent billions in future export value. Photo: Lidunn Mosaker Boge/Nofima

Project Year 2015

Mobilizing for snow crab

Snow crab is estimates to represent billions in export value. Nofima is mobilizing the full range of its research expertise for the newcomer.

In recent years the snow crab has migrated into the Barents Sea. The Norwegian catch of the delicacy has significantly increased, and prices are good. However, knowledge on catching, shelf-life, storage, transport and total exploitation is still lacking. The Nofima food research institute is now in full swing remedying this.

Most of the snow crab caught by Norwegian vessels is cooked and frozen just after catching, but the market is willing to pay a higher price for live crab. The solution is to store the snow crab alive in “crab hotels” and sell it when the market is ready for it.

Nofima researchers were, in late summer 2015, as the first in Norway granted permission to keep snow crab captive for research purposes. The project is called “Optimisation of environmental conditions during live storage of snow crab – to ensure survivability, quality and the best possible animal welfare”.

Sustainable development and an industry that is based on renewable resources is the goal of the work.

In this work it is important to involve the entire value chain: Catching, live storage, processing, exploitation of residual raw materials and market. “At Nofima we have the range of knowledge and expertise that allows us to efficiently coordinate this work,” says research manager Ragnhild Dragøy Whitaker.

Results from the research will in the course of 2016 be compiled in a manual for both producers and buyers, where they will find information on best practice for live catching and intermediary storage of the crab.

The snow crab is similar in appearance to the king crab, but lives in deeper water, where it thrives in the lower temperatures.

“When we started in 1994, few people believed that the king crab could be kept alive. Now as many as 70% of the king crabs caught are kept alive. Norwegian king crab has an excellent reputation, thanks to the quality it maintains in hotels,” senior researcher Sten Siikavuopio says.

The scientists are now looking forward to acquiring similar knowledge on snow crab.

The Institute of Marine Research, The University of Tromsø, Svalbardrådet, Polybait, Chrisma, Capefish, Ocean Venture and other industrial partners.

The Regional Research Fund North (RFFN) and the Fishery and Aquaculture Industry Research Fund (FHF)

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