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Snow crab quotas cuts and high demand


More and more markets are opening their eyes to the delicate snow crab, the upwards trend in demand creates a gap in the market as the quotas seem to continue their decline to protect the biomass. Royal Greenland has invested heavily in snow crab over the past years and can now offer a more stable supply.

World catch overview

Despite the fact that snow crab stocks are growing in the Barents Sea and Northern Norway, total world biomass is thought to be in decline. For that reason, quotas are being reduced drastically in Canada and Alaska. The expectation for Russia Pacific is a slight increase in the fishery for 2018. Greenland is a very small player and the yearly catch quota of 2.900t remains stable.

World catch in tons live weight


According to Norges Råfiskelag the decline in world catch for 2018 is expected to be 30% compared to 2015. In the same period the price has increased with more than 40% as demand seems to remain stable.

Royal Greenland strengthens its position on snow crab

Royal Greenland has processed snow crab from Greenland for more than two decades as a relatively small player in the market. With Royal Greenlands acquisition of Quin-Sea Fisheries Ltd. in Newfoundland, Canada, it has however become a strategic species in the North Atlantic strategy. Moreover, recent investments in the Barents Sea have enabled Royal Greenland to take a strong role in the world market supply.

By 2018 our sourcing strategy is threefold;

  1. Continuous investment in Greenlandic sourcing
  2. Maintain or increase share of Canadian volume
  3. New investment in fishing vessel in the Norwegian/Barents Sea

Greenlandic sourcing

Royal Greenland processes snow crab in three factories on the Greenlandic west coast; Paamiut, Qeqertarsuaq and Sisimiut which have been recently refurbished. All factories receives a stable supply due to long-term strong relations with local fishermen.

The year-round fishing season in Greenland enables Royal Greenland to supply markets outside of the traditional time windows, which will be continued.

Canadian sourcing

With the acquisition of the Newfoundland based Quin-Sea Fisheries Ltd. in 2015 Royal Greenland significantly intensified its position in the Canadian snow crab industry. Quin-Sea Fisheries operate three processing factories in Newfoundland; Old Perlican, Cape Broyle and Conche attracting the local fishermen to deliver locally.

The season is the traditional window from May to August. The challenge for the Canadian production is the quota reduction, and it remains yet to be seen how that will affect Royal Greenland sourcing.

New sourcing in the Norwegian/Barents Sea

From January 2018 Royal Greenland will participate in the fishery for snow crab in the Barents Sea with the vessel “Arctic Opilio”, which is operated in cooperation with local actors in Norway. All products will be distributed exclusively by Royal Greenland.

For this fishery the season will run from January to May which allows Royal Greenland to prolong the supply season by starting early for the benefit of our customers.

With the new sourcing area Royal Greenlands snow crab season is expanded, which allows a more continuous disposal of stock positions and a longer buying period for our customers.

Snow crab fishing season


Snow crab fisheries

Snow crab (Chionocetes Opilio) resides in the coldest waters of the northern hemisphere. The snow crab typically resides inshore and in fjords where the seabed is muddy or sandy. The snow crab is seen at depths from 20 to 1,200 metres, but is usually found at between 70 and 280 metres.

Fishery takes place in six areas; Canada New Foundland, Canada Gulf of Saint Lawrence, Alaska, Russia Pacific, Greenland and lately also in Northern Norway and the Barents sea.

In all areas the crabs are caught with pots.

This fishery has very little impact on the seabed and no risk of by-catch. The lined pots are bated with squid or fish, and lowered to the seabed, where they are left for three to four hours to attract the snow crabs. The design allows the snow crabs to enter, but not to leave, trapping the crabs alive inside the pots.

Next news: MSC certified Greenland halibut in a market perspective