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NOTES ON CRAYFISH

Oceana Lobster, Johan Kamfer, Factory Manager
Ben Oostdam, January 28, 2004
Doring Bay, South Africa


Oceana Lobster operates a fleet of a dozen larger vessels and 14 to 15 boats manned by a crew of six each. They set and retrieve traps of 1.5 x 1m which are left out overnight.
The Doring Bay crayfish processing and packing plant has a receiving facility where live, iced crayfish is delivered between 8 a.m amd 4 p.m. and sorted by size in 4 ranges.
Crayfishers are working under a tight quota system with separate categories for commercial, semi-commercial and recreational. Minimum approved tail size is 80 mm.
The crayfish are put into seawater holding tanks for as long as 14 20 days, during which time they are not fed. Some cannibalism takes place and occasional dead specimens can be easily discerned and removed because their white bellies are turned upward.
The healthy crayfish average 218 to 300 gram by weight. They are killed overnight by changing the tank from seawater to fresh water; they are not boiled because that contorts their bodies. They are packed whole in iced plastic baskets and 10 kg styrofoam boxes and flown to such destinations as the Far East and Europe; the USA market only takes "Rocklobster" tail, and the front part is discarded.
The facilities are kept clean but wet, and almost everyone in the total complement of about 30 employees wears boots and plastic aprons. Women do most of the packing and maintain the pleasant habit of singing while at work. That should make it easier on the crayfish to sacrifice their lives to culinary connoiseurs.


Other links: Creation of a new fisheries policy in South Africa by Richard Martin and Jasper Raakjaer Nielsen

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