Commercial fishermen and women have various tools available that allow them to successfully and efficiently catch live Dungeness crab; although not all tools and methods are equal. Some may be easier to use, yet may not be the best for the environment. Others may be a bit more costly to obtain up front, but may be more sustainable in the long run. More often, nets and pots are common crabbing methods used by fishermen and women and each have their own set of pros and cons.
Continue reading to learn the differences of each, the impact each has on its environment, and which one Fathom Seafood’s fishermen and women choose to use.
All About the Crabbing Nets
Within the net category, there are various types that can be used when crabbing. Certain nets are typically used in certain environments or are chosen for specific needs to characteristics. Nets are not commonly used when fishing for Dungeness crab, but some people still continue to do so.
A bag net has a long vertical wall of netting, often several hundred metres long, running at right angles to the shoreline that is intended to interrupt the natural swim of the fish and direct them along it away from the shore and into a series of traps (SeaFish).
A purse seine is a large net used to surround a shoal of pelagic fish. Once shot, the bottom of the net is drawn together by hauling in a long wire called the ‘purse line’ to form a huge cup shape of netting just below the surface of the water with the targeting fish inside. The net is gradually hauled onboard the vessel and the catch taken onboard the vessel (SeaFish).
**Note—there are different types of seine nets.
A further fishing method employs lift nets, which are submerged, then raised or hauled upward out of the water to catch the fish or crustaceans above them, often attracted by light or natural bait. This group includes small hand-operated lift nets, such as hoop and blanket nets, as well as large, mechanically and pneumatically operated lift nets (Britannica).
A gill net is a single wall of netting anchored on the seabed to catch fish that swim into it. Gill net is also a collective name for many different styles of nets as well as being a style of net in itself. Many of these nets will be referred to differently in different fisheries (SeaFish).
Each one of these types of nets might be used in a particular area of the world and used for certain types of species.
Often nets are not the most sustainable option; not only can other non-targeted species get caught up in the nets, but oftentimes, nets can get caught on debris or plants underneath the water and tear, or get lost, especially when older, worn nets are not replaced. Lost nets laying around the ocean floor or caught up in coral can cause marine life to get stuck in them.
Now let’s learn about crabbing with pots.
All About the Crabbing Pots
Pots are used worldwide to catch crustacean such as Dungeness crab. Fishing vessels will drop their traps or pots into the water, which will sink to the seabed and target species in that particular area. A buoy is connected to the pot so that fishermen and women can locate it at another date; however, with modern technology, GPS is also used to locate pots. There is no need to wait around for a catch, which makes this method quite efficient. Pots can be used in shallow water or up to 1000 feet in depth, making them versatile as well.
Bait is placed inside of the pot, which lures crabs inside of it. Because of the way the pots are made, the crabs can enter, but cannot get back out. Once pulled up into the vessel, the crabs are taken from the pot and any other species that snuck in there can be thrown back into the water.
Pots are actually the most commonly used crabbing method among commercial fishermen and women. They are also considered very sustainable; even the pot’s physical construction is made from specific guidelines in order to minimize any impact (DFW).
Crabbing pots are a fishing method that has a very low environmental impact upon other species and the seabed. By-catch, or the trapping of species not targeting by the pots, is minimal. According to the experts at SeaFish.org, “This (by-catching) can be minimised by the use of appropriate mesh sizes in the cover netting and the use of relevant escape gaps. Any by-catch in the pots can be easily removed from the trap and released back into the sea immediately without harm.”
In Puget Sound, Washington, there are commercial Dungeness crab fisheries that use pots in order to sustainably catch their crab, which is how Fathom Seafood obtains their Dungeness.
Fathom Seafood is one of the world's premier live crab companies, shipping worldwide to nearly every continent, offering year round availability, and leading the industry in aquamarine science and on land aquatic tanking technologies. Their fishermen and women and vessels utilize crabbing pots to catch the live Dungeness crab you can order directly from their website—and have shipped to you directly within 24 hours.