Cromer Crabs

05 July 2017

Cromer Crab has had people flocking to the Norfolk coast for decades and are in season now

Cromer Crab has had people flocking to the Norfolk coast for decades with the first records of Cromer Crab appearing over 200 years ago in a local guide book;

“lobsters, crabs, whiting, cod-fish and herring are all caught here in the finest perfection”

These crabs are renowned for their sweetness and high ratio of white meat, even though they are notably smaller than other crabs of the same species. Cancer Pagurus, or Brown Crab as it is more commonly known can be found all across the British Coastline and Europe though it is only in Cromer that they are held in such high esteem. Which begs the question; why is Cromer Crab so popular?

Crabbing has been the bed rock of Cromer for centuries with families passing down the trade through generations. With most Crab Fishermen still using the 'Pot Method' which is both traditional and highly sustainable. This method means each 'pot' is checked by hand allowing any undersize crabs to be thrown back prior to being taken back to shore, this means every crab gets at least one breeding season before being caught.

Sustainability is one of the major aspects of Cromer Crabbing; with such high demand and only a limited season depleting the beds would be easy but for a lot of Cromerians; Crabbing is not only for profit, it is a way of life. With many locals either employed as part of the industry or just making the most of the delicacy on their doorstep.

So in 2012 when 'Youngs' processing plant was closed there was a local uproar as over 230 jobs were lost. Though this seems a small number, for our community the affect was devastating and with a campaign run by local legend Stephen Fry falling fruitless, there was nothing to be done. Though a local company has now started commercial processing it is still a long way off the national production of Cromer's yester-year.

Production aside the main draw of the Cromer Crab is the taste. Substantially sweeter than many others of the same species these Crabs are considered a delicacy worldwide but why are they so sweet? Local Fishermen believe this is due to the chalk shelf running along the coast which coupled with the highly nutrient waters promotes the most delectable crabs, unmatched by any of their  Nordic cousins.

So next time you indulge in a Cromer Crab overlooking the pier remember the generations of fishermen of past, present and future putting Cromer Crab on the map.