(Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada, Pot, Trap)
Snow crab from Alaska and the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada is a "Best Choice."
Snow crab from Eastern Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador are "Good Alternatives."
Kani, Queen Crab, Snow Crab, Spider Crab, Tanner Crab
The common market name "snow crab" is used not only for the true snow crab, but also for all three species of tanner crab. Snow crab is sold as kani when prepared as sushi.
Like most crabs, snow crabs are short-lived, fast to reach sexual maturity and produce thousands of eggs. These factors help them maintain population stability, even when they are caught for human consumption.
Alaskan snow crab is regularly monitored and the latest assessment showed it has recovered from overfishing. This fishery is well-managed, with clear goals set for maintaining stock for the long term. Compliance is verified by observers at sea and at the dockside, as well as electronic vessel monitoring.
The Canadian stock shows a great deal of fluctuation in size, but this is most likely due to varying ocean conditions. Warmer oceans over the last few years have seen a decrease in snow crab production.
Canadian snow crab fisheries are managed using an individual quota system, together with a number of other management measures, including regular stock assessments and timely responses to changes in abundance.
Bycatch in the U.S. trap fishery is limited to smaller crabs species and immature males and none are listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. However, in the Canadian fishery, there are some accidental captures of wolfish, listed under Canada's Species at Risk Act. In addition, Canada's Department of Fisheries and Ocean estimates that the fishery may account for between one and five endangered leatherback sea turtle deaths each year.
Traps have a small impact on the seafloor habitat and U.S. management regulations ensure that they are not set in important habitat areas for fishes. In Canada, limited efforts are made to reduce habitat impacts, and with the fishery increasing in size in some regions, this is a cause for concern. However, some regions are closing areas to fishing to limit impacts.