UMF student presents solutions on invasive green crabs to Maine Legislature

UMF junior Maine policy scholar Eve Fischer has conducted research that finds market solutions to the invasive Maine green crab species, pictured, that are impacting marine habitats nationwide. Fischer also had the opportunity to present these effective solutions for processing, selling and eating green crabs to a Maine legislative committee. UMF picture

FARMINGTON — University of Maine at Farmington junior Eve Fischer has researched and developed solutions to deal with invasive species of green crabs in Maine and across the country.

As a result of his findings, Fischer was offered the opportunity to present his findings to the Marine Resources Committee of the Maine State Legislature on January 11.

Fischer has degrees in geography and environmental planning and studies environmental policy and political science. She began her foray into invasive green crab research as a Maine Policy Scholar. His research, also in conjunction with an internship at Manoment (an environmental sustainability nonprofit), found major solutions to the “aggressive” negative impacts of the green crab on native shellfish, their habitats in Maine. This invasion subsequently impacts the state’s lobster, clam fishing, and overall seafood industries.

The research not only eliminates the impacts of the green crab, but also strengthens Maine’s economy and the restaurant and seafood industries. The solution in question? Eat the crabs.

“My whole research project centers around not just ‘we have this big problem with green crabs’, but ‘what can we do about it? ‘” Fischer said on Zoom. “I’m really advocating for these market solutions because I think if the green crabs aren’t going anywhere, which they certainly aren’t… they might as well become something that can help the people of Maine instead of just harm. to our environment and our industry.

“Anything we can do to reduce their impacts on these industries is really helpful for fishing in Maine,” Fischer said. “[As is] turn them into a useful resource that people can eat and we can make money from that can go to restaurants or whatever, any vendor.

One of his faculty advisers, assistant professor of geography and environmental planning Jesse Minor, said Fischer’s research not only presents a solution, but prompts the state and industries “to encourage the continued removal of green crabs.” of the ecosystem” with political and practical changes.

“What Eve really started to highlight was the real utility of a culinary market for green crabs and in particular the very high value soft shell green crab market,” Minor said.

Fischer confirmed that green crabs are not only edible, but “totally delicious”.

“Once in the summer I went down by myself and caught a bunch [of green crabs] and boil them, just to try it. Totally delicious. It pretty much tastes like lobster,” she said. “So definitely people shouldn’t hold back because they think it’s going to be different. It’s really the same thing.”

As a teaching assistant, Fischer also cooked the crabs with her students in different recipes like crab rangoon and baked crab dip, which “turned out well too.”

On January 11, Fischer had the opportunity to present this research and market solutions to the Marine Resources Committee.

“It’s really very rewarding to spend all this time on [the research, solutions] and putting that work together by bringing together what the solutions might be and what the main picture is, and then kind of fleshing it out by presenting it to the legislature,” Fischer said. “I felt really lucky… [to] I feel like I’m talking to people who are at the center of it all in Maine.

Fischer’s faculty advisors Minor and Jim Melcher, UMF professor of political science and advisor to UMF policy scholars, are immensely proud of the “vigor” and originality that Fischer has devoted to his research as a policy researcher.

“She’s a truly amazing student. I can’t remember a student I ever had who needed less incentive to do their job,” Melcher said. “It was really more orientation.”

Minor thinks that “we have extended the impact of the work that Eve has done”.

“The fact that [the legislative committee] wanted to talk to Eve and make time for her is really a tribute not only to the quality of her presentation of the project and the quality of her research, but also to the importance of the issue and the fact that she came up with something Who [has realistic, doable solutions]”, said Melcher.

“What was great about what Eve did [research] solved so many problems,” Melcher added. “It killed so many birds with one stone that it’s the kind of thing that people won’t roll their eyes at and say, ‘Oh, that’s somebody else who just wants to throw some money. money on something. “”

Now, Fischer’s research continues. She began looking at prices that would provide a market for fishers to sustainably and functionally harvest green crabs.

“What it would take to have a basically sustainable payment to fishermen is really not out of reach, given the market value of some of these things,” Minor said.

She continues the research with continued funding from the Maine Community Foundation. According to Melcher, this is the first time a UMF scholar has benefited.

“This is yet another area where Eve was a real pioneer for us,” Melcher said.

Along with the solution of processing meat for human consumption, Fischer also discovered other solutions, including processing meat for pet food, using crabs as bait, and directing them to composts. .

But in the end, Fischer, Minor, and Melcher have an emphatic answer about the best way to fight the invasion of Maine’s marine habitats: let them eat green crab.

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