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Cornish spider crabs are a hit in Europe

Cornish spider crabs are much loved in Europe. Photo: ITV News

They are a firm favourite across the Channel but spider crabs are not on the menu in many restaurants in the UK.

That is surprising because they thrive in Cornish waters.

One Newquay fisherman who's been hauling them up for more than 40 years says this season has been one of his busiest.

Phil Trebilcock has been fishing spider crabs for more than 40 years. Credit: ITV News

Phil Trebilcock said, ''98% of what we catch goes abroad. It's a pity really because it has lovely meat in it."

"People think it's just the claws but the body is full of meat. It's a bit sweeter than the brown crab but it's bit more labour intensive getting it out. I don't know why people in England don't eat more of them.''

The season to catch crabs only lasts 4 months. Credit: ITV News

Phil says that the quality of the spider crabs this season is very good and they are weighing in at around 2 or 3 kilos each.

The catch season is a short one. Once the sea begins to warm up around April the spiders return to our waters, and stay till around the end of July.

The spider crabs weigh about 2 or 3 kilos each. Credit: ITV News

When asked what attracts the Europeans to Cornwall for their spider crabs, Phil said ''They get them off France but the Spanish have been coming here now for over 35 years for them.''

Aaron goes fishing with his dad Phil in search of the spider crabs. Credit: ITV News

Aaron, Phil's son, said ''The lorry comes over to Cornwall and Devon maybe once sometimes twice a week, all the way from Spain."

"They have tanks in the lorry and they carry 8-10 tons of salt water which they collect on arrival and then the crabs are weighed and put into tanks and taken across the Channel into Spain and France.''

The crabs are measured to ensure they comply with EU regulations. Credit: ITV News

The crabs are carefully measured to comply with EU regulations.

However, it's only a temporary reprieve for the smaller ones that are returned to sea.

They'll be back in the pot and on someone's dinner plate in the future.