Veteran fishermen and crab catchers along the Norwegian coast are reporting a rise in what newspaper Dagbladet calls a “grotesque summertime trend:” People finding live crabs in the sea are ripping off the most sought-after part of the crab, their claws, and then tossing them defenseless back into the water.
“This is clearly animal cruelty,” retired fisherman Egil Inge Heimnes told local Hordaland newspaper Askøyværingen. He claimed that when a crab loses its main claw it can starve to death. Breaking off the claws of crabs is a violation of Norwegian animal welfare laws, because it leaves them in a helpless situation. Crabs use their claws both for feeding and for protection.
Officials at the state fisheries directorate told Dagbladet that they’re aware of the problem and that animal protection authorities have stressed that the practice is prohibited.
Some of the crabs are believed to be stolen from traps set out by fishing boats that return to find them empty. “This is a ongoing problem,” fisherman Kjell Karlsen told Askøyværingen. “Many steal the traps, take all the crabs in them, and then throw them out again in deep water.”