Europe wants Norwegian crab


Demand for crab has increased in southern Europe. ‘Krabbegiganten Hitramat’ in Trøndelag now wants fishermen in the Oslofjord to meet the need.


“The French, Spaniards and Portuguese are eating more crab meat, especially crab claws. If we can access more raw materials, we can increase exports.

To France alone, we export hundreds of tons of crab a year’’, said development manager at Hitramat,Kolbjørn Ulvan.

Hitramat is the largest crab farm in the country. Today they buy crab from fishermen on the stretch south of Sognefjord to Vesterålen.

“It is evenly good fishing on the whole stretch, but it hasn’t reached capacity yet. Therefore we want to test crab fishing in the Oslo fjord,” said Ulvan.

Crabs, crabs and more crabs

Norwegian exports of fish and shellfish have had a good start in 2018. In January, Norway exported seafood to the value of NOK 7.7 billion, an increase of 2% over January the year before.

However, there has never been commercial fishing of crabs to any extent in the Oslo fjord, despite the fact that the fjord is full of crabs.

The challenge from Hitramat has nevertheless been taken with open arms among the Eastern fishermen.

“For us who fish for lobster, the crab has become a big problem. This autumn, a colleague caught 72 crabs in one lobster net. If crab can now become a financial resource too, it’s really positive’’, said fisherman, John Harald Haraldsen, one of the professional fishermen in the Oslo Fjord.

“It is a fact that there is relatively little food in the crabs here compared to Western Norway. I think that a reduction in the stock will help to improve the nutritional basis of the crabs. In the long term, it means getting more meat in the crabs here also’’, he said.

An experiment

Hundreds of fishermen on both sides of the Oslo Fjord are now preparing for crab fishing. It will take place in cooperation with Hitramat. The company has arranged meetings at Hvaler and in Sandefjord.

‘Skagerrakfisk’, the fishermen’s sales organisation on the Skagerrak coast,are also involved in the project.

The development manager at Hitramat, Kolbjørn Uvan, is not alarmed by the crabs in the Oslo Fjord having less meat than in Western Norway.

‘’A crab can not be empty forever. So here it is about experimenting a little.

The 275 fishermen who deliver to us today have a lot of knowledge that can be transferred to Oslofjorden. And that’s what we’re going to do now,’’said the development manager.

If the experimental fishing is successful, several stations will be built in the Oslo Fjord area. The crabs are shipped live to ‘Hitra’ for processing. They are cooled down so that they sleep during transport.

Hitramat has been using seafood for over a hundred years and uses technology that empties the whole crab for crab meat.


© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today