Supply Chain

Irish Crab Market Collapses, Endangering Fishing Businesses

By Sarah O'Sullivan
Irish Crab Market Collapses, Endangering Fishing Businesses

The crab market has experienced a sudden collapse, according to crab fishers who say that they are in danger of being put out of business, RTÉ reported this week.

A significant fall in demand for Irish brown crab in the key markets of France, Spain and Portugal has caused a 40% reduction in income for Irish crab fishers.

Some fishers have been unable to sell their crab, as Irish buyers who export the crab are reluctant to be left with unwanted stock.

The lack of demand in Europe is thought to be due to the rising cost of living and increased transport costs for fresh produce.

Irish crab exports are worth up to €50 million each year, but in recent weeks, fishers have taken a significant hit.

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A slowdown in the Chinese market was followed by a complete collapse in France.

Spain’s market is fast diminishing, and demand has dried up in Portugal, too.

The problems have been compounded by the falling price of lobster and a ban on pollack fishing.

Lobster prices have dropped from €30 per kg to €15 per kg in the space of a month.

‘A Complete Disaster’

Fisherman Ciarán Ó Lúing explained to RTÉ that options for boats like his have been greatly reduced.

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Ó Lúing said, “In the past, if crab prices fell, we could fall back on the pollack. Now that is gone as well.

“It is a complete disaster. Lobster is struggling, and all that is left is crayfish, and if every fella goes at the cray at the same time, the price will simply crash there, too.”

Fisherman Eoin Feirtéar said that he was having a difficult season, having just invested in a 12-metre boat.

“I’ve never seen it this bad,” Feirtéar said. “We are down 40-45% on what we would normally bring in.

“We are only going out once or twice a week now because there is no point. The buyers will not take crab from us.”

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The chairman of the National Inshore Fishermen’s Association, Michael Desmond, says that support measures must be introduced to help fishers.

Desmond said, “We saw this coming seven months ago, when the processed-crab industry here in Ireland began to collapse. Factories started closing.

“We need immediate financial support for fishermen, and we need proper crab management policies, to ensure a steady market.

“We’re facing a wipeout here.”

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