The green crab is a threat to the Great Salt Marsh

Green crabs in the salt marsh

Recipe For Disaster is a six minute video about the explosion of European Green Crabs in the Great Salt Marsh that extends from Gloucester through Ipswich to New Hampshire . The largest salt marsh in New England, it contains an astonishing diversity of plant and animals. As native scallops, mussels, clams, and protective eelgrass disappear under the explosive invasion of green crabs, scientists, local experts, and residents are scrambling to save the marsh from decimation. Driven by the rising temperatures in the Gulf of Maine, billions of green crabs have overrun the abundant natural marshes on coastal New England. This small crustacean has spread to nearly every continent on the globe and been hailed as one of the most destructive invasive species of all time. One adult green crab an eat 40 clams every day.

Green crabs aren’t a new problem for the Great Salt Marsh. During the Great Depression, an Ipswich W. P. A. project caught and destroyed about 2550 bushels of green crabs. In 1940, the Ipswich clam commissioner wrote in the Town Report, “I can say with much pleasure that the green crab menace has been greatly reduced. Much credit for this must be given to the W. P. A. workers. The large number of egg-bearing crabs gathered by them last summer has practically eliminated that danger.”

After discovering the crab had decimated New England soft-shell clam populations, conservationists began focusing on removal to mitigate their invasive impact. That’s when a group of scientists and activists from the US and Canada landed on a new idea: what if we ate the problem?

“If we did nothing, they would overwhelm the estuaries completely,” said Roger Warner, Founder of Green Crab R&D Project. His mission is to develop markets and motivate the harvest and consumption of green crabs to mitigate their invasive impact, providing fishermen in vulnerable industries with alternative sources of income. All proceeds from the Green Crab Cookbook benefit

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