Green crabs on the menu? Yes, says local fisheries specialist | New Hampshire

Green crabs on the menu? Yes, says local fisheries specialist

By KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent
April 22. 2018 9:21PM
A green crab caught by fisheries specialist Gabriela Bradt. The invasive species is considered a delicacy in other parts of the world. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent)

Gabriela Bradt is looking for citizen scientists to help her as she researches how to bring the green crab market to life in New Hampshire. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent)

RYE — Fisheries specialist Gabriela Bradt says she is obsessed with her research on green crabs.

Bradt, who works for the UNH Cooperative Extension and NH Sea Grant, is evaluating the potential for trapping the commonly found crabs and selling them for human consumption.

Green crabs are smaller than other popular crabs so they are not commonly harvested for food in the United States but in Venice, Italy, fishermen have developed techniques for catching them when they are molting and they are considered a delicacy. There, the crabs are battered and covered in corn flour before they are deep fried.

They sell for between $25 and $40 per pound in Italy.

“In Venice they have a legitimate fishery and it’s super lucrative because they figured out when the males molt,” Bradt said. “We’re trying to model that and these markets after what we are seeing in Italy.”

Green crabs are also considered delicacies in China, Spain and the Philippines.

Bradt started her research in 2015 after talking with a lobsterman who told her that green crabs were everywhere. They are an invasive species which traveled to Cape Cod in the 1800s in water on ships.

Green crabs are a problem because they disrupt ecosystems and reduce biodiversity. Each crab can eat up to 40 clams or oysters a day.

Bradt said green crabs have a stronger seafood flavor than most of the crabs people are used to eating.

“I compare it to the difference between cows and bison meat,” Bradt said.

Bradt said some of the larger crabs can be picked for meat, but often they are used for soups, stocks and chowders.

Bradt said for those who prefer fish, green crabs serve as great bait for striped bass, which is catchable from shore during the summer months in New Hampshire.

Robbin Ray, a media relations specialist at the University of New Hampshire, said there will be a sustainable dinner at Stillings Hall Wednesday from 4:30 to 8 p.m. and green crab bisque will be on the menu.

Local and sustainable seafood dishes prepared in collaboration with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, UNH Cooperative Extension, NH Sea Grant, North Coast Seafood and Best Aquaculture Practices will be featured, according to UNH’s dining website.

Bradt is looking for citizen scientists to help with her research on bringing green crabs to market locally. For more information, visit www.seagrant.unh.edu/nh-green-crab-project.


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