August 29, 2013
The hungry critter's first dish was mussels. Then scallops. Now it's soft-shell clams. And some fear lobsters will be next. European green crabs are devouring a shellfish buffet along Maine's seashore, plundering populations in their wake. To get a snapshot of just how severe the problem is, clammers, scientists, and marine officials took a survey today along Maine's coast.
Clammer Chad Coffin says there is a force to be reckoned with in Maine's ocean: Green crabs, he says, are dominating hundreds - if not thousands - of square miles of the intertidal zone, a favored habitat of clams.
"The Maine shellfish industry is in deep trouble," Coffin says. "We think that we're only may two years away from really no commercial viability in the state on softshell clams, which has been, historically and traditionally, one of the most important and economically valuable resources on the coast of Maine."
Clams are the third most lucrative commercial fishery in Maine, and green crabs are their number one threat. Clammers, marine officials and scientists are banding together to devise a strategy to stop the voracious predator. But first they need to get a better understanding of exactly where green crabs are, and how many of them are out there.