Crawfish Numbers In Scilly Bucking National Downward Trend

matt lethbridge sea fisheries vessel 2Scilly appears to be bucking the mainland trend for falling crawfish numbers.

It’s early days, but islanders taking part in a tagging trial to determine the sustainability of our seafood have reported increased numbers of the crustacean.

IFCA officer Steve Watt says there’s been a 13% rise recorded over the last 6 years.

The pattern of crawfish movement has also changed here. Steve says 30 years ago islanders could capture them in their pots. Now tangle nets are needed. 5 of the 23 registered commercial fishermen in Scilly use that method.

Last year 1,600 kilos of crawfish were landed here and exported to market in Newlyn.

The crawfish are tagged with specific numbers so those pulled from the water can be monitored for growth rates and movement.

And last week, the European Fisheries Fund agreed to grant an additional £45,000 to extend the survey work in Scilly for two years.

There’ll be funding for more of the tags, which are imported from Seattle and to allow £50 payments to fishermen each time a survey worker is on board.

But Steve says the islands’ fishermen have also been keen to report back size and location of tagged creatures they land. Scores of responses have been processed so far and Steve says the fishermen have a real sense of ownership of the project.

The data will eventually reveal whether the shellfish are at risk and if declared sustainable, crawfish could command a higher price at market.