According to the Portland Press Herald, a population explosion of green crabs is destroying Maine's shellfish industry. Ron Howse, president and CEO of the Tidalwater Seafood Co., from New Brunswick, has proposed to solve the problem by making the invasive species a marketable product.
Howse plans to process green crabs in Maine and market the meat and live crabs to customers in Japan, Korea, China, Spain and Portugal. Green crabs eat clams and mussels, steal bait from lobster traps, destroy eelgrass beds and damage salt marshes. Howse believes other markets will find the crab desirable as a food source.
The crabs have no commercial value because their bodies are too small, so their meat can't be removed efficiently. Recent attempts to create a market for them as bait or cat food have fallen flat.
Steve Follette, a clam digger who co-chairs the Frenchman Bay Regional Shellfish Conservation Committee in Down East Maine believes that if nothing is done, clam diggers will be out of business in two years.
Howse could open a processing plant in the Brunswick or Bangor area to pick the meat from green crabs, and may set up holding facilities along the Maine coast. He said there's also a significant market for live crabs, which could be shipped to Asia and Europe on flights from the Bangor International Airport.
Howse said there's enough money to finance the business plan if he gets some financial support from community development groups in the state. He said he has significant private funds available, but he wouldn't provide details about the amount of money he has or the amount he would need to raise.