New regulations on soft-shelled brown crab

Date published: 14 February 2023


New regulations, which came into effect on Friday 10 February 2023, prohibit the landing and retention of soft-shelled edible (brown) crab.


This is the latest measure introduced by DAERA following calls from the fishing industry for better regulation to ensure the sustainability of the brown crab fishery, the third most valuable in Northern Ireland. 

Brown crabs grow by moulting their shell and taking on water before their new shell hardens. During this time from moulting to the hardening of the shell, the soft-shelled brown crab will continue to feed and may be caught in pots that have been put out by fishermen. In that period the volume and quality of their meat decreases significantly and is of poor value until the shell hardens again.

In 2022, DAERA consulted on the proposal and all respondents supported a ban on landing soft-shell crab.

The Edible Crabs (Conservation) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2023 prohibit the retention on board a sea-fishing boat, the bringing to land, the landing, having in possession, selling, exposing for sale, buying for sale, or consigning to any person for the purpose of sale, a soft-shelled edible crab. Such crabs must be immediately returned to the sea

Notes to editors: 

  1. Download The Edible Crabs (Conservation) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2023 
  2. Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook.
  3. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office at:
  4. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

Share this page

Back to top