Fishermen in Georgetown, Maine, are trying to make lemonade from lemons by creating a new fishery on the invasive species Green Crab, Carcinus maenas. Green crabs are an introduced species along the North Atlantic coast of the United States and Canada. They are native to the western coast of Europe in the Atlantic and arrived here in the ballast water of ships. They were first reported in Massachusetts in 1871 and have since spread north and south, affecting many other fisheries. The crabs themselves eat many types of young shellfish and invade coastal habitats, thus creating a need to eradicate the species.

However, there is an opportunity to eat our way out of the problem of invasive green crabs was inspired by a visit to Venice by a Maine man named Taggart. He saw the Venetians harvest Moleche, the Italian Green Crab (same genus as Green crabs, but a different species). In Italy, the crabs are cooked, battered, and served over pasta. The practice of fishing Moleche is a dying art because of the difficulty to harvest the crabs at the right moment in time. The crabs can only be harvested just before they molt. In both types of crabs, the ability to tell when they are about to shed is difficult. The body becomes slightly

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soft and a fine line begins to show on the belly of the crab. Realizing the need to pass on the skill of fishing for Moleche, a Venetian fisherman came to Maine to teach researchers how to harvest the crabs. Easily attracted to bait, Green Crabs can be caught using nets and traps. Currently, the researchers in Maine are checking the abundance, size, and gender of the crabs for data collection. Most of the molting takes place in the spring and fall. When they set their traps out, the crabs that are ready to be harvested are taken and the crabs that are close to molting are kept in floating cages until harvest (Overton, 2016).

This is also being adapted elsewhere. Legal Seafood, in Massachusetts, is trying to become more sustainable by using the invasive species in their menu. The, “executive chef Rich Vellante plans to test green crab stock in three dishes at Legal Seafood in Boston’s Seaport District” (Warner, 2015).

If we are able to harvest and consume Green Crabs, their numbers will begin to fall and other shellfish and their habitat will be able to recover from the green crab invasion. As Marissa McMahon, a marine biologist from Northeastern University said about the Green Crab harvest, “when taken together with other methods, it can help slow down the population growth of the invasive species, and maybe, over time, give us a new market for Maine fishermen to diversify the industry” (Overton, 2016). Harvesting Green Crab presents itself with a very hearty and plentiful market. If the taste of Green Crab meat becomes part of consumer demand, this could become another fishery both in Maine and the rest of the American Atlantic coast.

More information in the links below: crab-problem-shall-eat-enemy/ Ahtg6L87Gpxs0RMKntYAoN/story.html, http:// scuttling-from-dilemma-to-delicacy/

Thank you to OCEAN Researcher Will Santora