COLUMBUS– Atlantic Crab Resource Users Transnational Network
The distribution of brown crab spans the entire Atlantic Area. While the catching sector is concentrated mainly in the UK, Ireland and France, both France and Spain play a huge role in the distribution and buying of brown crab once it is landed. Processing and value adding activities are spread across the whole region.
A robust brown crab resource exists with a fleet that is equipped to catch and land crab to buyers and processors feeding into a predominantly European market. The fishing effort is focused in the United Kingdom, which accounts for nearly 60% of landings; Ireland and France come next as major suppliers while Norway also contributes significantly to the overall supply of brown crab. Further value accrues to the countries of the Atlantic Area from these landings through transport, holding facilities and processing and while there are no definitive figures available on the total economic value added through these activities it is reasonable to assume that the total is somewhere between two and three times the landed value, making the industry worth between €130 and €200 million per annum .
However, a number of challenges face the industry across the member states such as increasing fuel prices, diminishing demand on European markets, competition from cheaper non EU imports and quality issues. This had forced the industry in the UK, Ireland and France to take a transnational approach to these issues and to attempt to address these issues through dialogue and co-operation. In taking this initiative, albeit on an ad hoc basis, it was acknowledged that a lack of trust and competition between countries was further hampering the economic viability of the sector in the face of exogenous challenges. These factors led to the development of this project which proposes a formalised transnational approach to catching, transport, processing and selling of brown crab, a common Atlantic Area resource.
The aim of the project is to ensure and sustain the economic viability of the European brown crab industry through transnational co-operation which will be realised with the following objectives:
- Form a transnational industry network to identify and address factors to improve brown crab competitiveness through co-operation, communication and innovation.
- Build an industry science interface with an agreed policy for assessment and monitoring that feed into management and policy at national, regional and EU level.
- Develop and encourage the widespread adoption of an accredited European brown crab standard to deliver a responsibly caught, quality product to the market place.
- Increase the economic viability of the entire sector through analysis of the brown crab production chain and improve competitive advantage through the identification of key cost points
- Enhance competitiveness through the introduction of innovative practices and products informed by the production chain analysis
- Increase the market presence and visibility of brown crab through focused European marketing and consumer education.
- A dynamic network that combines UK, Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal in a regular effective communication forum that engenders trust and openness in dealing with sectoral challenges with a solution based approach. In the short term there will be a stabilisation in market price through managing the supply of the shared resource to satisfy the market demand.
- An agreed indicator framework for assessing and monitoring the fishery allowing stakeholders to participate meaningfully in transnational management of a shared resource.
- A European brown crab quality standard with a responsible approach to exploitation of a sustainable resource backed by scientific evaluations, accredited to ISO 9000 and ISO 65.
- An economic analysis of route to market which will result in a model through which measures to increase competitiveness can be pinpointed, and their effectiveness gauged on an ongoing basis.
- New product formats and cheaper transport based on innovative use of a superior quality brown crab raw product based on technical, market and consumer research.
- Increase in the sale of brown crab product through the maintenance of current demand for traditional product formats and attraction of new consumers to through education and the provision of alternative product formats