Robotic Crab meat extraction to bring more revenue back to Canada

The world’s first full-on crab plant robot sits inside a tall, plastic chamber roughly the size of a shipping container. A conveyer belt carries the splayed crab into the chamber, where a robot scoops them up and places them on one of two plastic saddles.

The machine was designed to be a part of a robotic system that would extract the meat from the crab’s shells, a process which is often done overseas.

Its designers are also hoping it will solve a few workforce problems in fish plants caused by changing demographics in rural Newfoundland.

The meat extraction used to be done by hand in Newfoundland and Labrador plants, but the labour became too expensive.

The sections are now being sent overseas for meat extraction, where the labour is considerably cheaper.

Bringing that step back to Newfoundland plants would allow plant operators to make more money and get more value from the resource.

“The average age is about 55 years old now in seafood processing,” said Pretty. “To backfill those positions, it’s often difficult.”

Fish plant jobs are wet and cold, and they don’t pay much: maybe $15 or $16 an hour.

They’re also seasonal — the crab season is short, and plants need a lot of people for a short amount of time.