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

Guide on live catching and sale of snow crab

Trials carried out by Nofima show that snow crab has properties that make it well suited for live storage and sale. A guide shows you how.

This article was last updated more than two years ago.

The guide was developed on behalf of the Fishery and Aquaculture Industry Research Fund (FHF).

Currently it is most common to store snow crab live in fish tanks with water supply from the bottom to top of the tank. Trials at Nofima show that the animals can be stored for up to two months in such tanks without detriment to quality or animal welfare. In order to prevent weight loss in the animals during live storage for two months, maintenance feeding is recommended.

Trials have shown that snow crabs have an extreme affinity for the cold and are most comfortable at temperatures of 0 to 5 degrees in full seawater.  Researchers also recommend cooling the water in the summer and autumn when the water temperature rises above 5 degrees. Oxygen levels should be monitored daily and should not drop below a saturation of 80 per cent. The crabs are sensitive to both low and varying levels of salt in the water. One should therefore use pure seawater.

Crab welfare

A visual inspection of snow crabs allows one to see whether the crabs are suitable for live storage/shipment, or if their condition is so poor that they should be slaughtered immediately.

“We have chosen to use colour codes for three different criteria – the animal’s movement, ability to grip and lifting of claws – to more easily visualise what should be done. Animals that fall into the red category should not be exported alive or stored alive,” says senior researcher Sten Siikavuopio at Nofima.

The guide also contains good advice for exporters who want to export live snow crabs. Snow crab can withstand 48 hours of dry transport in air freight boxes using current packing techniques, as for king crab.

Download the guide below. Norwegian language (PDF).

 Production biology  

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