Photo: Frank Gregersen © Nofima

Project Year 2019

World-leading crab research

 Industrial economics    Marine biotechnology    Marketing research    Nutrition and feed technology    Processing technology    Production biology    Raw materials and process optimisation    Seafood industry  

Nofima is the world-leading interdisciplinary research group for red king crab and snow crab.

“We follow king and snow crab from capture to the global market, and we have a unique network of collaboration partners, says Sten Siikavuopio.

“Nofima’s research focuses on maximizing value from this resource”, says Grete Lorentzen.

The two senior scientists in Nofima is playing a key part in the extensive research into these two relatively new species in Norwegian marine fauna. The Norwegian Seafood Council’s general strategy states that shellfish should front Norwegian seafood exports and help position Norway as the world’s leading seafood-producing nation. In 2018, export of king and snow crab amounted to NOK 740 million.

Some facts

Here is a brief overview showing the width of our crab research:

Catch: 70 % of the king crab harvested outside Norway is exported alive to the global market – mainly the EU, USA and Asia. Scientists work with fishermen to develop gentler catching methods – both for minimizing damage to the catch and for better animal welfare.

Feed: After years of trial and error, Nofima’s feed technology centre has managed to develop a dry feed tailored for shellfish. Unlike salmon feed, which is consumed right away, shellfish feed needs to be stable in water for longer periods of time without dissolving and it must be consumable. Producing feed pellets which have a highwater stability, the correct texture and good sinking properties are crucial.

Live storage and transport: How should the crab be kept alive after the catch and animal welfare be taken care of during transport? Water quality, temperature, feed access, light, time, and space are key factors.

Genetics: Both king and snow crab moult several times during their growth period. Because the quality of the meat changes dramatically in the moulting period, stakeholders must be able to determine where in the moulting cycle the crabs are. Scientists have identified the Y-organ and Halloween genes that regulate the moulting cycle.

Fast and accurate

Processing: We have examined how different processing methods, such as heat and high pressure treatment, packaging, and freezing influence the product. The goal is to find combinations that result in a product with optimum quality attributes.

By-products: Utilization of the whole animal is important – both valuable chitin and marine oils can be found in the shells and organs of crabs. At Nofima’s national centre for bioprocessing, experiments can be performed to discover possibilities in total utilization of the by-products.

Meat content measurement: The content of meat in the crab legs is one of the most important quality parameter. Such knowledge is important for fishermen, industry, and market, and it is a key for the price of the product. Manual methods are inaccurate, labour and timeconsuming. Nofima are together with industry stakeholders developing an instrument for this purpose and it is based on near-infrared technology. This instrument enables a quick and accurate knowledge about the meat content, without causing injuries to the animal. Market: Snow and king crab are especially popular in markets physically and culturally far removed from Norway. What market opportunities and requirements apply? How can we position and differentiate Norwegian crab towards international buyers to create increased value and steady demand?

Management: The management of the crab fisheries sets the condition for the industry’s value creation potential. Regulations on crab fishing are constantly being developed. Nofima analyses how the regulations can facilitate the long term profitability and value creation of the industry.
Future research “Aquaculture of crabs is the future research area. This is a potential supplement to the existing crab fisheries. It will however require intensive scientific and industrial effort to solve the challenges we will face”, says Siikavuopio.

More useful research results