Stockton Spring Shellfish Committee participates in green crab survey
Recently the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) offered the opportunity for local Shellfish Committees to participate in a One Day Green Crab Survey along the coast of Maine. This survey was initiated by the DMR because the population of the green crab, which is an invasive species from Europe, has noticeably increased recently and the species is apparently now devastating important commercial shellfish resources like clams and mussels.
The survey was designed to provide a snapshot of the locations and relative abundance of green crab populations statewide. This information is to be used by DMR to raise awareness of the problem and assist municipalities with a plan for control of this aggressive shellfish predator.
In late August members of the Stockton Springs Shellfish Committee and concerned residents participated in the DMR's green crab study. The green crab survey crew included Shellfish Committee members Michael Verrone and Phil Sandine, along with Darren Shute, Marianne Sandine, Penni Greenlaw and Meggan Dwyer from Maine DMR.
On Aug. 27 Darren provided his vessel, the Sea Mist, to set 10 traps in Stockton Harbor at locations from the inner section of the Harbor to near its junction with Penobscot Bay, a distance of some two miles.
As the traps were retrieved the net day, the crew counted the crabs, and then determined the sex and took measurements on 50 crabs per trap. By the time the crew returned to the town dock it was dark and raining.
The results are a bit alarming since around 200 crabs were collected in each trap, for a total of nearly 2,000 green crabs. Tentative information from DMR indicates that the catch from Stockton Harbor may be one of the highest from the state wide coastal survey.
Although standard lobster traps and bait were used, no lobster or fish were captured. And the number of crabs other than green crabs were low at around 20 individuals.
As previously noted, the green crab is an invasive species which threatens the shellfish industry along the Maine coast. A tremendous "thank you" to members of the Shellfish Committee and community members for their participation in this DMR survey. And a special acknowledgement to Darren Shute for volunteering his time and the use of his lobster boat.