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Sweden's crayfish season begins: Here's what you need to know

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Sweden's crayfish season begins: Here's what you need to know
A plate of crayfish ready to be served at a traditional party. Photo:Carolina Romare/imagebank.sweden.se
08:49 CEST+02:00
The crayfish season in Sweden has begun, so here's a quick introduction to the fishy tradition.

Crayfish are a beloved summer delicacy in Sweden and have been since as far back as the 1800s. 

On Friday, the fishing season kicked off at Lake Vättern, the second largest lake in Sweden and one of two where commercial fishing of signal crayfish takes place. This means that members of the public are allowed to fish without needing special permission for five weekends over August and early September. 

And the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) has forecast a record year for fishing at Vättern, with 151 tonnes of crayfish expected to be caught. This would be an increase of almost a third compared to last year, and substantially higher than the current record set in 2008 when 145 tonnes of crayfish were caught.

At Lake Hjälmaren, which usually has the second largest amounts of crayfish, only professional anglers with a permit can fish, and the fishing began back in July.

Up until 1993 the sale of crayfish was restricted nationwide to after August 8th, and fishing began at 5pm on August 7th, later changed to the first Wednesday of August.

This law no longer exists today; fishing begins in some Swedish waters earlier in the summer, and the crustaceans can now be bought and sold (often imported and frozen) all year round. 

However, late summer is still the most popular time to eat crayfish, and many people in Sweden host parties to feast on the fish during August. Traditionally reserved for the upper classes, crayfish became more widely popular during the 1920s and 1930s, when the word 'crayfish party' was first established in Swedish.

Crayfish parties typically take place outdoors, with Swedish snaps (and the accompanying drinking songs), party hats and games.

Vocabulary

lake – sjö

record year – rekordår

to fish – fiska

season – säsong

crayfish party – kräftskiva

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