Invasive Marine Life Plagues Italy’s Seas, Jeopardizes Key Produce

[Screenshot/The Associated Press]

John Oyewale Contributor
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A voracious marine species alien to Italy has invaded the country’s waters, preying on a vast range of marine life including clams, Italy’s prized sea produce, according to a video published by the Associated Press (AP).

The blue crabs displayed their characteristic sea-blue pincers and tenacious grip as fishermen hauled them up, the AP video showed. The invasive crab species can be seen swiftly and easily prying clams open and devouring anything they can find. This disruption causes significant damage to the Italian marine ecosystem and fishing industry, according to the report in the footage.

Fishermen working in Tuscany’s Orbetello Lagoon leave their nets in the water overnight, expecting to catch sea bream, sea bass and eels; however, by morning they find they have caught thousands of blue crabs, per the video. (RELATED: Poisonous Spider That Causes Prolonged Erections Forces Grocery Store Evacuation)

“He is aggressive, he is fast, he is an animal of unacceptable intelligence. We fight this blue crab, but he is stronger than us, there are so many of them,” said Mario Giudici, a concerned Italian fisherman, to AP.

Italy, the largest producer of clams in Europe and the third largest in the world, has allocated €2.9 million (about $3.15 million) to fight the invasion, per the video. The country reportedly loses over 50% of its clam, mussel and oyster production to the invasive blue crab.

The blue crabs, native to the American coast, reportedly made their way to Italy’s waters and other parts of the world — possibly via ships — finding new homes in the Adriatic and Mediterranean seas. While the Italian government intends to fight a fiscal battle against the invasive species, Italians have already resorted to waging culinary wars on the crabs, serving them up with pasta, the AP video showed.

The omnivorous “beautiful savory swimmer(s),” as their scientific name implies, are the most valuable fishery in the Chesapeake Bay, per the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, also known as NOAA Fisheries. The states of Maryland and Virginia monitor the crabs’ population each year.

Although the crabs weigh about one-third of a pound, their edible parts constitute a low percentage of that weight, NOAA Fisheries added.