Although spider crab stocks are little studied potting for crabs has minimal impact on the environment and the current level of fishing is unlikely to have a detrimental effect on the stocks. Minimum landing sizes and licences for shell fishing are set by Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (CIFCA) who monitor and regulate this fishery. This is an underutilzed species and the majority of the spider crab catch is exported to Spain. It would benefit small scale, sustainable fishermen if a better UK market for this species could be developed.
Updated October 2018
Pots are low impact and selective. Undersized catch can be returned safely and the pots don't damage the seabed.Learn more
Gill nets are efficient for catching spider crabs when they are on the move across the seabed. As they get so badly tangled the quality sometimes suffers and gill nets can have issues with accidental by catch of other non target species.Learn more
Cornwall Good Seafood Guide rates fish on sustainability using a scale of 1 to 5.
1, 2 and 3 are recommended, Fish to avoid are rated 5.
We use the system devised by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) so our scores are comparable with the scores produced by MCS for the UK and fisheries from all around the world. For more information on scoring click here.
Although this stock is relatively poorly studied, according to Cornwall Sea Fisheries study of 2003-6 catch per unit effort was steady which is a good indication of sustainable levels of harvesting. Catches of spider crabs to Cornish ports has increased since the 90’s as the market has developed in Spain and now is fluctuating at around 400 tonnes per year. During the recession demand from Spain dipped with many fishermen finding that they couldn’t sell their catch in 2013. This species was included as an underutilsed species in the 2011 report produced by CEFAS.
Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority manages shellfish licences and sets a minimum size for spider crabs. There is currently no quota or restriction on number of pots. Vessels over 15m in length are restricted by days at sea regulations in the Celtic sea. (ICES WGCRAB 2012). Shellfish fising is a licenced activity and fishermen must provide CIFCA detailed data on catches and fishing effort.
Spider crabs are caught in nets or pots . There are several different designs of crab and lobster pots that are used by Cornish fishermen. Traditional ink pots were originally constructed from willow withy’s but nowadays pots are constructed from steel and nylon net with plastic fittings. All are baited traps that allow crabs in but prevent them from easily escaping. Pots are dropped down to the seabed and are left for several hours or days before being retrieved. Any undersized crustaceans can be returned unharmed and in Cornwall there is little impact on the seabed on which the pots are deployed. Spider crab are also caught with gill nets. It is very difficult to pick out a spider crab as they become hopelessly tangled. Often the quality of the catch is not as good as pot caught and undersized ones if damaged are less likely to survey after being returned over the side. There are problems with accidental by catch of sharks, skates, cetaceans and seals in gill nets.
A spicy and zesty dish to make the most of seasonal seafood.
Sanjay Kumar shares his mum's recipie for delicious Bengali Curry.
This simple dish is delicous and easy to prepair. And is best using fresh cornish squid!