, Salem, MA

Local News

February 11, 2014

Clammers, officials discuss solutions for devastating green crabs


Bob Glenn, of the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries, said there could be a growing market for the crabs in Asia and as bait for whelk fisherman.

“The demand is getting greater for these,” he said.

Many people at the meeting suggested the crabs could possibly be composted and turned into fertilizer.

“We need to market these where they are valuable,” Grundstrom said.

One thing was clear at the meeting: There are no simple answers.

LaPreste said there needs to be a short-term plan to “catch and destroy” the crabs, along with long-term options, such as food processing.

“I’d like to see money for some kind of incentive to go out and destroy them, while we look into the market for them,” he said. “That is easier said than done.”

State Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, was at last night’s meeting and will host a more focused meeting in Gloucester on March 3. He said research money could be looked into at the state or federal levels.

“I’ve been very alarmed at reading about what is happening in Maine,” Tarr said. “I had been involved in the issue about 10 years ago, and it was concerning back then, but it seems to ebb and flow.”

The crabs are believed to have arrived in the United States in the late 1800s from Europe in the ballast of ships. It is reported that the green crab will “eat anything it can get its claws on,” including clams, mussels, other crabs, small fish, marsh and eel grasses, and the eggs of horseshoe crabs and lobsters. Just one of these green crabs, which grow to about 3 to 4 inches, can eat 40 half-inch clams a day.

There are no known predators of the crab, and as adaptations have enabled it to survive in colder water, its population has flourished.

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