King crab boom yields royal catch

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Fishing boats have been streaming to West Finnmark in Northern Norway to take part in what’s shaping up as the biggest king crab catch ever. An unusual boom in king crab reproduction has quadrupled the amount of crab pulled out of the Barents Sea so far this year.

state secretary showing off a king crab

King crabs like this one fetch a good price on the international market, and Western Finnmark is pulling up a record haul. PHOTO: Nærings- og fiskeridepartementet

“Folks are coming from Lofoten, Troms and Eastern Finnmark to fish,” Håkon Yngve Karlsen of the local receiving station in Repvåg told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “That’s in addition to all the local fishing boats.” Karlsen said that in itself has positive ripple effects on the local economy because of the supplies and maintenance needed by the boats.

All told, the 79 boats arriving with king crab have weighed in with 417 tons so far this year, compared to 102 tons during the same period last year. So much king crab has been delivered to Karlsen’s North Cape King Crab in Repvåg that he’s had to hire five more people to handle it all.

The king crab is a delicacy and the bounty isn’t driving down prices because of international demand. “The positive thing here is that it gives the fishing industry in Finnmark an opportunity to become more of a full-year supplier to the international market,” Svein Ove Haugland, assistant director of the wholesaling agency Norges Råfisklag, told NRK.

The catch has been valued at NOK 23.3 million so far this year, compared to just NOK 4.5 million last year. Karlsen’s receiving station has seen revenues increase by more than 200 percent.

The king crab boom may not last very long, however. Jan H Sundet, senior researcher for Norway’s Havforskningsinstituttet told NRK that the results of the sharp increase in reproduction will disappear with the catch, probably over the next year. “Then we’ll just have to wait for a new boom year,” Sundet said. He noted that reproduction patterns vary by area, though, “so it can happen that next year another area will enjoy a boom.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund