Food scientists might be bringing this invasive species to your table

Photo by davemhuntphotography/ Shutterstock

Since the 1950s, Atlantic Canada has been fighting the European Green Crab, a cannibalistic invasive species with a voracious appetite. Years later, this species of crab has spread to the West Coast, out-competing native crab and other species for food, including oysters, mussels, clams, and even juvenile crabs.

It’s not only their insatiable appetite that makes them so destructive, but also their resilience. They can survive out of the water for more than five days and can tolerate different water temperatures and levels of salt. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has this crab on their list of ten most unwanted species world, due to it’s “potential to upset the overall balance of the marine ecosystem.”

Food scientists in Maine have recently discovered a way to harvest the meat from this invasive species, with a round of consumer testing already completed. The empanadas used in testing were ranked between “like slightly” and “like moderately,” with 63 per cent saying they would buy them if they became available.

Joseph Galetti, involved in the consumer testing, became interested in this project because of the potential positive ramifications. If a market were to develop for the green crab, some of the ecological pressure could be alleviated from the oceans.

“I think there’s a great opportunity to somehow process these crabs and deliver high-quality food products to consumers,” Galetti told CBC. “It’s just a matter of someone needs to take the next step. Be collaborative, be creative, and make it happen.”

Would you try the European Green Crab?