Maine nonprofit awarded NOAA grant to develop green crab market

Published on
September 19, 2018

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant Program has given a grant of USD 267,440 (EUR 229,165) to a Maine, U.S.A.-based nonprofit Manomet in order to work on creating a fishery for invasive European green crabs. 

The grant will allow Manomet to expand its project on creating a new economic opportunity out of soft-shell green crabs in New England. The green crab, a species that is invasive to New England, has been present for more than a hundred years and has recently expanded in numbers to the point it is putting pressure on local species. 

That pressure has contributed to record low landings of caught and farmed mussels, and also threatens Maine’s softshell clam industry. 

Manomet has already launched efforts to galvanize efforts on commercializing green crabs. On 6 and 7 June, the organization hosted a “Green Crab Working Summit” in Portland, Maine, to bring together various experts to discuss commercialization of the species. 

The goal is to create a new fishery that allows the area to adapt to the changes in species created by climate change, according to Manomet Senior Fisheries Scientist Marissa McMahan. 

“Utilizing an invasive species to diversify fisheries resources may ultimately enhance the future resiliency of New England’s coastal communities, and could serve as a unique example of how to mitigate and adapt to the ecological and socioeconomic impacts of climate-driven change," McMahan said.

A soft-shell green crab industry isn’t out of the question, as they’ve existed in Europe for decades. 

“A very lucrative soft-shell green crab fishery has existed in Venice, Italy, for over a century,” said McMahan. “I’ve been there to study their operations and believe we can replicate it.”

The grant will go towards ongoing population monitoring of the green crabs, as well as increasing marketing and outreach efforts on the crabs, determine the viability of the fishery, and if it is viable, develop it. 

“With support from the NOAA Saltonstall-Kennedy Program, we hope to create a financially viable market for the green crab and create a new revenue opportunity for New England’s fishermen,” McMahan said.

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