How Big Are Your Crabs?

The minimum size of crabs and lobsters caught in Manx waters will increase on September 1 as part of measures to ensure the long-term future of the fishery.

It comes after Tynwald backed proposals put forward by the DEFA in July 2021 to maximise sustainability and profitability.

The proposals were part of a public consultation in late 2020, with the majority of responses being in favour of the changes which will bring the Islands fisheries’ in line with best practice observed elsewhere in the British Isles. 

The updated regulations have been designed to ensure stocks are sustainable by boosting reproductive output and to deliver long-term industry security and economic benefits.

The brown crab fishery was worth about £1.18m to the island in 2018, while the European lobster fishery brought in £600,000.

Changes will see the minimum shell size for landed crabs rise by 10 mm to 140 mm (carapace width), and lobsters to 88 mm (carapace length) until August 31 2022 – then rising to 90mm on September 1 2022.

A new policy will also ensure that commercial licences that are not being used (‘latent’) are better managed. Commercial licences for crab and lobster will only be issued to those who can demonstrate a track record of having fished the species commercially (for at least one day) between 2016 and 2019. A review process is also in place to handle appeals against any decisions.

A number of changes to how recreational (hobby pot) licenses are handled and renewed will also come into effect, with an annual license costing £10 from 1 July 2022. 

Minister Geoffrey Boot said: ‘Following the consultation feedback we have introduced several changes to the Island’s important crab and lobster fisheries to help secure the sustainable future of the industry. Unused licences were highlighted by the industry working group as being the single greatest barrier to developing effective long-term management, so we have developed a policy to address this.

‘We have also created an industry forum for this sector. It is hoped that, like the Scallop Management Board, it will be effective in developing and recommending further measures that secure the future for this industry and the stocks they depend upon.’

Further details will be published on the gov website before 1 September. Information about the change and criteria for latent licences are set out in the new policy.

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