Berlin responds to crayfish plague: If you can't beat them, eat them

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BERLIN (Reuters) – North American crayfish that spilled en masse onto Berlin streets last summer will soon be appearing in the city’s restaurants after its government authorized fishermen to remove them from public ponds.

FILE PHOTO: A red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) is hold by Charles Oliver Coleman, of the Leibniz Institute for Research on Evolution and Biodiversity, after he fished it from a pond at Tiergarten park in Berlin, Germany, August 24, 2017. The invasive red swamp crawfish have been spotted scuttling around the paths of the Tiergarten park and also parading outside the neighboring Spanish Embassy. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo

The red swamp crayfish, or Procambarus clarkii, are on the European Union’s list of invasive alien species but also popular in German aquariums.

It is likely some were abandoned by their owners and started multiplying in favorable weather conditions, the German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union believes.

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To halt the invasion, the Berlin government has licensed a local business to fish the 15 cm (6 inch) crustaceans, which carry infections that native crayfish are not resistant to, out of the ponds in public parks that they have taken over.

The license runs until the end of the year, and some 1,600 crayfish have been captured so far, Berlin senator Derk Ehlert told German news agency dpa.

Tests have established that the crayfish are fit for consumption, and the fishermen plan to sell them to local restaurants, dpa said.

Reporting by Laura Dubois; Editing by Joseph Nasr and John Stonestreet



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