Invasive Crabs Turned Into Delicacy? | NECN
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Invasive Crabs Turned Into Delicacy?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    (Published Thursday, June 22, 2017)

    On a beautiful summer day in Ipswich, Massachusetts, a pesky problem lurks just beneath the surface of the ocean.

    "This is 12 hours worth of crabs," said Roger Warner as he pulled a trap onto his boat.

    Dozens of green crabs spill out, along with the skeletons of several fish used as bait.

    "You can see these suckers will strip a fish in no time flat," he added, throwing what was left of the fish overboard.

    "They pose a threat to the clamming industry," Warner explained.

    That's because the crabs dine on baby clams, spoiling future harvests.

    But Warner is one of several people now fighting back.

    He's part of the non-profit Green Crab R & D, a group studying the invasive crustaceans menacing the North Shore.

    The green crabs likely arrived here in the 1800s on ships, but just in the past few years have the numbers really sky rocketed.

    An estimated 77,000 pounds were pulled from town waters just last year.

    That explosion is fueled by warming oceans and over fishing of predators.

    This year, so far, is another big haul, motivating Warner to find a solution.

    "We're trying to figure out how to turn green crabs into a source of excellent, excellent seafood," he said from his boat.

    The goal is to drive up consumer demand, making it attractive for fishermen to catch them.

    So far, fishermen have been enticed to catch them by way of state subsidies, but there's an indication those may go away in the future.

    "We think the food industry is the way to go," Warner added.

    At Woodman's of Essex, there's total support for the plan.

    Just this spring, the iconic restaurant tested out new green crab dishes.

    "You can fry them, you can sauté them," noted owner Steve Woodman.

    So far, so good.

    "Actually, I was a little surprised. They seem to be a little sweeter or something, a little better flavor," Woodman said, comparing the green crab to other soft shell crabs he's had in other parts of the country.

    But this is just the start.

    Plans are underway to serve up even more dishes this fall, including green crab soups.

    "We want to get a market for these things, we want people to start finding a way to eat them because we don’t want the green crabs down in the clam flats eating our clams,” Woodman said.

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