The Balearic Islands are currently home to 7 marine reserves, as well as a Maritime Terrestrial National Park (namely, the Cabrera archipelago). In all of these protected zones, fishing of the European Spider Crab is forbidden and all specimens captured must, by law, be returned to the sea, whether dead or alive.


Until 40 years ago, the crab itself, the Maja Squinado, had been traditional fare among people in the coastal settlements and at sea, though it was never a species of great commercial value. Although it was once in abundance along these rocky coastlines, today it is considered as a species in danger of extinction along the length of the Spanish Mediterranean coast. 



The situation is bad across all of the Balearic Islands, with the following geographical differences: in Mallorca and Menorca, only one specimen is known to have been caught in the eighties and there is no record of any having been caught since 1989. All data indicates that the species is close to extinction on the Balearic Islands as a whole. In fact, the spider crab can be considered extinct on Mallorca and Menorca, while being in serious danger of extinction on the Pityuses (Ibiza and Formentera). The EU, in Strasbourg, 1997, established the species Maja Squinado in the Mediterranean as a protected fauna species.


Larval stages of Mediterranean Spider Crab

Zoea / Zoea II

Megalopa / Juvenil