Before Brexit, the largest brown crab catch volumes belonged to the UK with average annual volumes of 31,000 tonnes, or over 60% of the total brown crab catches in the EU. Denmark’s crab fishery is rather limited, compared to other EU countries, with annual volumes fluctuating between 200 and 300 tonnes.
The Danish Fisheries Agency has announced that it will enforce, and sanction violators of a new rule governing brown crab fishing in the North Sea. In the technical regulation (Regulation no. 2019/1241 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Annex V, Part A) it is established that: “For brown crab caught in nets and baskets, no more than 1 percent by weight of the total catch of brown crab may consist of removed claws. For brown crab caught with other gear, a maximum of 75 kg of removed crab claws may be landed.” Previously, this restriction did not exist. A transition or grace period will extend to 30 April 2023, and the regulation becomes fully effective and will be enforced from 1 May 2023.
Crab claws are the principal marketable product from brown crabs, and claws can be removed prior to the vessel’s landing or the whole animal can be landed intact. Representatives of the Danish Fisheries Agency measure the catch, including adjusting for the claw-weight equivalent of whole crabs landed, at the landing port. Industry members have expressed concern about the economic cost of this restriction, because for some boats crabs are a vital species. The Danish Fisheries Agency has expressed appreciation of this economic dependence but notes that the agency must enforce EU fishery management rules in Danish waters.