King crab conditions ‘critical’

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Once a coastal pest, now a delicacy, the kongekrabben (king crab) that’s become a major part of the seafood industry in Norway now faces an uncertain future. Maritime researchers worry they’re simply not reproducing quickly enough to meet demand.

Intense activity in the crab-catching business suddenly seems to be showing negative consequences and researchers aren’t ruling out a collapse in several fjords in Finnmark. Ann Merete Hjelset documented in her doctoral thesis at the University of Tromsø that the king crab has become less fertile.

She’s followed developments in the crab population in the Varanger-, Tana- and Laksefjords in Finnmark, Norway’s northernmost county, for more than 10 years. Her research shows that female crabs depend on much bigger male crabs to reproduce, and the process, which also hinges on a shell change, takes time. That’s markedly reducing the number of crabs being caught, reported news bureau NTB.

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