Record amounts of snow crab in Barents Sea

Russian researchers found considerable amounts of snow crab during last year's expedition to the barents Sea. (Photo: Dmitry Prozorkevich/PINRO)

Russian scientists have found out that the amount of snow crab in the Barents Sea is ten times higher the amount of king crab.


The Norwegian Institute of Marine Research has received data on the dissemination of snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) in the Barents Sea from its Russian partner organization PINRO. The mapping of the population showed unexpected results, the institute’s web site reads.

According to PINRO, there is ten times as much snow crab as there is king crab in the Barents Sea. The Russian scientists have compared the biomass of the two species.

Like the king crab, the snow crab is a new species in the Barents Sea. But while the king crab was deliberately put out in the Barents Sea by Russian scientists in the 1960’ies, it is uncertain how the snow crab has spread to the area - by ballast water or by natural migration.  

The snow crab is normally found in the northwest Atlantic Ocean and north Pacific Ocean. In the Barents Sea the crab is concentrated in the Russian part, but it is moving westwards, says Senior Researcher Jan H. Sundet. “We have to pay close attention when it moves into the Norwegian zone and especially the fishery regulation zone by Svalbard”.

The scientists will also be focusing on how the snow crab will influence the stock of king crab in the Barents Sea. The king crab has become a valuable resource for many fishers on the coast of Norway. For 2013 the total quota for king crabs in Norwegian waters are set at 900 ton. With a price of more than €100 per kilo, the crab has become big business.

King crab production in Bugøynes, Norway: