The blue crab from formidable predator to economic resource

Present in particular in the Indian Ocean, the Pacific and the Red Sea, the blue-legged crab has appeared for some years, in the Gulf of Gabes and rapidly proliferated, having found on this coast a favorable environment and abundant food.

The voracity of this invasive species has exacerbated the economic difficulties of many fishermen. The crab spoils the nets and, because of it, even the fishermen fear for their fingers: if they are injured, they will not be able to work, sometimes for several weeks.

Several events were organized by fishermen in 2015 and 2016 to stimulate in the competent authorities the search for a solution to this problem that involves and penalizes 1100 fishermen in the area.

The blue crab, scientific name Callinectes sapidus, according to researchers of the National Institute of Marine Science and Technology (INSTM) has arrived on the Tunisian coast through the ballast waters of ships, carrying larvae or eggs and through a natural migration, after opening of the Suez Canal in the nineteenth century.

Numerous studies  have been and are still being made. in the laboratory of the Isthmus of Carthage. Outside the laboratory there are several fishing gears, nets and cages, which the researchers try to constantly adapt to the behavior of the crabs, also in consideration of the new situation that lies ahead. In fact, in 2017, the Tunisian state launched a blue crab exploitation program through training courses for fishermen and subsidies on the purchase price (for a kilo fished and sold at the average price of 1,8 dinars, 55 cents of euro, the State pays between 18 and 24 euro cents extra).

Furthermore, also in 2017, an establishment was set up in Zarzis, near Djerba, for the production of frozen crabs for export.

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