December 4, 2013
ESSEX — The soft-shelled backbone of this town’s economy is under attack from an old enemy, with invasive species of crabs gobbling up clams throughout Essex Bay, experts say.
There may be two invasive species threatening the deep-fried favorite of Essex, the European green crabs and the Asian shore crabs. But Essex Shellfish Constable Billie Knovack says there is especially an uptick in European green crabs in Essex, and that means fewer for clammers to reel in.
“We have a green crab invasion,” he said Tuesday.
Usually, Knovack explained, the winter kills off the crab population. But warmer waters and warmer weather — which he attributed to climate change — means more time for the crabs to hunt Essex’s soft-shelled clams.
“It’s a much more opportune environment,” he said. “If you’re a crab, this is beautiful weather,” he said in 40-degree temperatures at the town landing Tuesday.