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have been known to buy van-loads of red crabs. Atlantic red crabs can live two to


three weeks if held in properly aerated tanks in 38- to 48-degree water. On ice, their shelf life is three to four days before black spots start to appear on their bodies, something that doesn’t happen to blue crabs. The Atlantic Deep Sea Red Crab


Company, operated by John Williams, runs four specially equipped red crab harvesting boats. Three run out of New Bedford, Massachusetts, while the other, the Hannah Boden, has run out of Newport News. The Hannah Boden was featured in the reality TV show “Deadliest Catch,” where it braved eight-foot waves in the Bering Sea. The four boats fish deep-sea habitats off the coast of Maryland, New England and the Mid-Atlantic Bight. (The Mid- Atlantic Bight is a coastal region running from Massachusetts to North Carolina. It contains the New York Bight.) The boats go out for about ten days


at a time and are equipped with 600 four-foot-high traps that are round, in comparison to traps used for blue crabs. The crabs are hauled live into onboard tanks filled with 38-degree water. Once on shore, they are either processed immediately or held live in tanks. Williams said, “We’re the first fishery on the East Coast to be Marine Stewardship Council certified sustainable, separating us from the cheap imports from all over the world. There is no question that sustainability is the wave of our future.” Essentially, the equipment used for


harvesting red crabs is similar to that used for the king crabs. Crews drop lines of 150 traps similar to, but larger than, those used to catch blue crabs. The traps are placed on the ocean floor in roughly 2,000 feet of water, where the red crabs can crawl right in. Williams’ boats bring in an estimated three million pounds of red crabs every year, with a value of more than $3 million. Compared to the blue crab harvest in Maryland of about $50 million a year, red crabs are a minor but potential growing market. Discerning diners can enjoy red


crabs caught off the Virginia coast and served at the Graham and Rollins Seafood Restaurant at 509 Bassette Street in Hampton (757-250-2303, info@ grahamandrollins.com). Red crabs are


The House & Home Magazine


Johnny Graham, President of Graham and Rollins Seafood in Hampton, Virginia, is an expert on red crabs and local seafood. Photo courtesy of Graham and Rollins Seafood.


Photo courtesy of VIMS 75


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