The snow crab is recorded as bycatch in trawl and gillnet fishery in Norwegian waters with an increasing frequency. The main part of the catches is in the northern part of the Barents Sea and in the Svalbard Conservation zone, but several catches has also been taken along the coast of Finnmark. The snow crab is expected to increase in abundance in the Norwegian part of the Barents Sea and in the Svalbard Conservation zone, but will probably appear more northerly distributed than the red king crab.
According to results of the snow crab ecosystem and trawl surveys in 2008 the total stock of Chionoecetes opilio in the eastern part of the Barents Sea was estimated at more than 10 million specimens, In the last few years an increased portion of small crabs was observed in the eastern sea. The opilio polulation in the Barents Sea is now in the state of development and the crab status is not yet been determined. Data on snow crabs testify that this true invasive species has successfully adapted to a new environment.
In accordance with the UN Convention on biological biodiversity the snow crab must be destroyed as an invasive species. However, the distribution of Ch. opilio over vast marine areas, specific features of crab biology, rather high abundance with good prospects for its great increase and difficulty of access to some areas of opilio distribution for trawling and other fishing methods are unlikely to allow this process to happen successfully.
This crab species is an abundant inhabitant in bottom communities on the shelf and continental slope of the northern Atlantic and Pacific and is there of great importance as a harvested species. In these areas the annual harvest of opilio amounted to several tens of thousands of tons. Environmental conditions in the Barents Sea suggest that in the foreseeable future the opilio abundance indices would be compared with those in their native habitats.