N.H. Green Crab Project
The green crab, Carcinas maenas, is an invasive species of crab that has wreaked ecological and economic havoc along the New England coast for decades. As ocean temperatures have increased, the populations of these crabs continue to explode. Currently, there is no strategy in place to control the populations of green crabs, and there is no real commercial market or fishery for these invaders.
The most common use of these crabs is as bait. In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in developing markets and perhaps a fishery to help control green crab populations and bring their numbers down. Green crabs are edible although they are currently used to make soups and broths as they are smaller than other popular crabs (Dungeness, Rock and Jonah crabs) and there is not much meat yield per crab. To this end, the N.H. Green Crab Project, has been researching when green crabs molt in order to explore the feasibility of a soft-shell crab market (similar to blue crabs) and subsequently a potential fishery.
This year, the N.H. Green Crab Project is expanding to include a citizen science component to monitor, track and map the presence of male green crabs in the spring and female green crabs in the late summer to early fall in N.H. estuarine and coastal areas. The goal of the project is to identify a clear window of time when male and female green crabs are molting as part of the exploration of the soft-shell green crab market and fishery in the Granite State.