Action required to halt crustacean crises in UK seas - Buglife

Image Credit: European Lobster (Homarus gammarus) © Natural England / Adele Morgan (Flickr, CC)
Image Credit: European Lobster (Homarus gammarus) © Natural England / Adele Morgan (Flickr, CC)

Conservation charity, Buglife, is raising concern about declining populations of crabs and lobsters, highlighting the lack of attention, protection and stewardship they are given, and calling for improved protection measures and reductions in fishing effort.

Buglife, the only conservation organisation in Europe to champion all invertebrates, warns that gaps in national legislation and monitoring are putting at high risk crab and lobster populations, as well as the fisheries that depend on them. Data from around UK coasts show significant drops in the numbers of Brown/Edible Crabs (Cancer pagurus) and European Lobsters (Homarus gammarus). Meanwhile the arrival of Alaskan King Crabs (Paralithodes camtschaticus), increases in European/Spiny Spider Crab (Maia squinado) populations, and the recovery of the already-once-crashed European Spiny Lobster or Crawfish (Palinurus elephas) population are resulting in an upsurge in largely unregulated fishing pressure on these animals.

The fishing of these large crustaceans has never been subject to the same level of scrutiny as the management of finned fish populations. The species mentioned above do not currently have quotas and, unlike finned fish, they are not subject to international agreements or negotiations.

Crustacean fishing legislation is applied at a local level only, so each inshore fishery region has different regulations and by-laws regarding what can be caught and how; most commonly a minimum landing size. However, the types of restriction vary widely, with some regions having hardly any, and they are complex to navigate, particularly when boats travel through several fishery regions.

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Posted On: 22/03/2023

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