Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Are old shells really that bad?

I mentioned last month that the Bering Sea snow crab fishery's quota had been reduced by about 25%, and I explained that the reduction was probably in part due to the decrease in mature male biomass that was seen during the 2012 summer trawl survey:

mature male biomass estimates in tons from the NMFS summer trawl surveys:
the fishery was declared rebuilt last year, but you can see the decrease
in males with a carapace width ≥ 95 mm from 2011 to 2012

The cut in quota wasn't due to that decrease alone; there was also a higher proportion of old-shell males within the survey. Why is this a problem? Old-shell males are not as commercially valuable as new-shell males because of their visual appeal (or lack thereof).

newly molted "new-shell" males on top and
males that have been around the block a few times, aka "old-shell" males

This article is great for explaining the issue of old-shell males in the fishery, plus it has some quotes from our good crab friend, and fishery biologist with ADF&G Kodiak, Doug Pengilly (holla!). I highly recommend you read it (you may have already if you follow Snow Crab Love on facebook) because it also mentions how the decrease in quota may or may not affect the value of the fishery. I bring it up simply because I'm curious what you all think:

Would you buy crabs that may have some barnacles growing on them or some scratches on their bodies that make them appear not-so-shiny? Or are you happy to get 'em clean?

Let me know!


  1. If I was sure the quality of the meat was good and they were less expensive, yes I would buy them in a heart beat!

    1. Yeah, quality assurance would be really important for old-shell males to be considered marketable!