An invasive species has stealthily established a foothold up and down the New England coast, and it’s already making progress on invading the West Coast. But this summer, you can join other allies from around New England in coming up with plans to stop these invaders — and maybe figuring out how to eat them, too.
Those invaders are European green crabs, an invasive species that’s increasing in numbers throughout New England waters as sea temperatures rise. Green crabs are wreaking havoc both economically and ecologically in the region’s waters, salt marshes and estuaries. That’s why New Hampshire Sea Grant and UNH Cooperative Extension, in partnership with Manomet Inc., are hosting the first Green Crab Working Summit on June 6-7.
The summit will bring together stakeholders to discuss current efforts to control green crab populations, including research, monitoring, fishery and market development. If you’re a fisherman, scientist, consumer, chef, marine resource manager, teacher, student or citizen scientist interested in protecting local ecosystems, this summit is for you. It’s a bit like joining the Avengers, but with crabs instead of alien invasions.
Here are four fast facts to get you up to speed on European green crabs:
They’re Not New Invaders: European green crabs (Carcinas maenas) came to Cape Cod in the mid-1800s as passengers in ballast water in European ships. They have since established themselves as a pervasive nuisance species from Cape Cod all the way to Prince Edward Island, and have managed a second invasion on the West Coast.
They’re Survivors: Green crabs can survive out of water for very long periods of time. It appears they can do this survive out of water for up to a week because they can transition from extracting oxygen from water to extracting oxygen from air.
They Don’t Mind Going Hungry: Green crabs can “eat” through their gills. A recent study has shown that green crabs can survive long periods without food because their gills have the ability to absorb nutrients from the surrounding water.
They’re Delicious: Green crabs are edible! They’re not as large as Dungeness or Jonah crabs, species that are commonly served in restaurants, but green crabs are nonetheless a delicious delicacy. In their soft-shell state in Europe, green crab harvests can net fisherman 40 Euros per pound.
The Green Crab Working Summit includes presentations from chefs, educators and scientists, cooking demonstrations, roundtable discussions, networking opportunities and more. Participants will learn about green crab ecology and biology, fishery development, and more. Developing a strategy to control and eliminate green crabs is vial. These invasive crustaceans continue to decimate native shellfish populations, reduce biodiversity and damage already fragile eel grass beds.
Don’t delay — join allies from around New England as we work together to move forward feasible solutions for green crabs.