Crabs’ attraction to underwater cables could see ‘real economic consequences’


UNDERWATER power cables causing brown crabs to change their behaviour could have ‘real economic consequences’ for the UK, a new study has warned.

The Heriot-Watt University team behind the study said that power cables linked to offshore renewable energy devices affect how brown crabs interact with the environment.

It explained that the animal ‘can’t resist’ the electromagnetic pull of the infrastructure, with the crabs being noted to sit still on the cables.

With brown crabs being the UK’s second most valuable crustacean catch and the most valuable inshore catch, the researchers warned that such a change in behaviour could see economic consequences.

Dr Alastair Lyndon, of Heriot-Watt University, explained, “Male brown crabs migrate up the east coast of Scotland. If miles of underwater cabling prove too difficult to resist, they’ll stay put. This could mean we have a build-up of male crabs in the south of Scotland, and a paucity of them in the northeast and islands, where they are incredibly important for fishermen’s livelihoods and local economies.

“One potential solution could be to bury the cables in the seafloor. However, that can be expensive, it makes maintenance more difficult and also it’s just not possible in some locations. We need to investigate further technical solutions so that we don’t create negative environmental effects while trying to decarbonise our energy supply.”