Brown crab distribution is found throughout the AA. The fishery sector is concentrated in the United Kingdom, Ireland and France, while both France and Spain play an important role in purchasing and distribution on land. The brown crab catch was 33,000 tonnes in 2009 in the United Kingdom (56%), Ireland (15%) and France (13%) out of a total of 39,000 tonnes in the whole of Europe, which represents a value of €66 million at first point of sale. In addition to this direct contribution to AA countries, there is also the complete processing and distribution chain to reach the end consumer, which is estimated to represent between 2 and 3 times the value of the catch, that is between € 130 and 200 million.
However, the industry is facing various obstacles in all Member States, such as increasing fuel prices, falling demand on European markets and competition from cheaper products from outside the EU and quality issues. The project proposes introducing a transnational cooperation approach to managing the brown crab catch, processing, transport and sale, which currently does not exist. Only by defining common goals and objectives for this important economic resource for the AA and through coordinated management can it achieve its optimum potential in a sustainable way.
In this context, ACRUNET aims to achieve the following objectives: to form a transnational network for the brown crab industry with the aim of identifying the factors for improving competitiveness and facilitating communication and innovation in the sector; to build an industry/science interface to monitor and evaluate information from management processes and national, regional and EU level policies; to develop and encourage widespread adoption of an accredited European brown crab standard to improve the quality of the product on the market; to increase the economic viability of the sector by analysing the brown crab production chain and improving competitive advantage by identifying key cost factors; to increase competitiveness by introducing innovative practices based on the information from analysis of the production chain; to increase market presence and the visibility of brown crab by marketing it in Europe and by educating the consumer.
Given the dominance of the AA in the brown crab production and distribution sector in the EU, ACRUNET intends to contribute to improving competitiveness and reinforcing this position of leadership through the cooperation process, expanding the potential of this important resource as a factor for economic and social development.