South Devon Crab
Here you will find all the information on South Devon Crab - how its caught, where it lives, and why it is the best!
South Devon Brown Crab- Cancer Pagurus
With its large black-tipped serrated pincers and rusty oval shaped shell with pie-crust edging, the brown or common crab is the largest crab in Britain. They are the heavy weight armour plated tanks of the seabed. In order to grow, crabs swell up and burst out of their old shell revealing a vulnerable soft new one underneath. This has to harden, so until they are battlefield ready again, they hide away. During the first years of a crab's life moulting takes place frequently but only every two years after it is fully grown.
Females or hen crabs are mature at around 12.7 cm, male crabs at 11 cm. It is possible for the crab to grow to 30cm across the carapace, but a more modest 15-20cm crustacean is usual. Brown Crab gives the best meat yield from April to November and is best avoided during breeding season in the winter - January to March.
Rich in vitamins and minerals, crab meat is also low in fat and contains Omega 3 polyunsaturated acids which help prevent heart disease and aid brain development. Some research suggests that Omega 3 also inhibits aggressive behaviour.
Brown Meat - The brown meat is packed with flavour, it's a taste of the sea and mixed with a little mayo and lemon juice spread on toast it is delicious. This is arguably the best part of the crab. In female crabs you will often find orange parts that are called the coral, these are the eggs of the female crab and are very saline and sea like to eat. You can mix with some mayo if they are a little dry.
White Meat - In the claws you will find lovely flakes of sweet white meat. The knuckle of the claw contains a wonderful firm nugget, whilst the body contains smaller flakes. The top part of the legs especially on larger crab hide a further nugget of delicious white meat.
Once female crabs are berried they must be returned to the water by law. There is a minimum landing size for crabs which is 14cm across for females and 16cm for males. This ensures that crabs can reach breeding size and breed at least twice before being caught. Potting is the most sustainable method of catching crab as there is no by-catch of non-target species, small and soft crabs can be returned to the sea alive. Currently crab stocks in the UK are fully exploited but there are management measures in place to ensure sustainability.
Uniquely, the waters of South Devon are home to a voluntary management system conceived by the inshore industry. The 'Inshore Potting Agreement' (IPA) has functioned effectively since 1978 to reduce conflict between potters and mobile gear (trawl and dredge) fishermen.