UMF junior Eve Fischer, a Maine Policy Scholar, has conducted research that finds market solutions to Maine’s invasive green crab species, pictured, that impacts marine habitats country-wide. Fischer also had the opportunity to present those solutions, effectively to process, sell and eat the green crabs, to a Maine legislative committee. UMF Image

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

In the wake of her findings, Fischer was offered the opportunity to present her discoveries to the Maine State Legislature’s Marine Resources Committee Jan. 11.

Fischer is a Geography and Environmental Planning major studying environmental policy and political science. She began her foray into research of invasive green crabs as a Maine Policy Scholar. Her research, also in conjunction with an internship at Manoment (an environmental sustainability nonprofit), found major solutions to the green crab’s “aggressive,” negative impacts on native crustaceans, their habitats in Maine. This invasion subsequently impacts the state’s lobstering, clamming and overall seafood industries.

The research not only culls the green crab’s impacts, but also bolsters Maine’s economy and seafood, restaurant industries. The solution in question? To eat the crabs.

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

“Anything we can do to lessen their impacts on those industries is really helpful for fishing in Maine,” Fischer said. “[As is] turning them into a useful resource that people can eat that we can make money off of that can go into restaurants or anything, any vendor.”


One of her faculty advisors, Geography and Environmental Planning assistant professor Jesse Minor said that Fischer’s research not only presents a solution, but incentivizes the state, industries “to encourage the continual removal of green crabs from the ecosystem” with policy and practical changes.

“What Eve has really started to highlight is the real utility of a culinary market for green crabs and especially the very value-added soft-shell green crab market,” Minor said.

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

“Once in the summer, I went down on my own and caught a bunch [of green crabs] and boiled them up, just to try it. Totally delicious. Tastes like lobster pretty much,” she said. “So definitely, people shouldn’t hold back because they think it will be different. It’s really quite the same.”

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

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


“It’s definitely really gratifying to spend all this time on [the research, solutions] and put this work into bringing together what the solutions could be and what the main picture is and then actually having it come to fruition a little bit by presenting to the legislature,” Fischer said. “I felt really lucky … [to] feel like I was like speaking with people who are at the center of all this in Maine.”

Fischer’s faculty advisors, Minor and Jim Melcher, a UMF political science professor and advisor to UMF Policy Scholars, are immensely proud of the “vigor” and originality Fischer has put into her time researching as a policy scholar.

“She’s a truly amazing student. I can’t remember a student I’ve ever had who needed less prodding to get work done,” Melcher said. “It was really more guidance.”

Minor believes “we have extended impact of the work that Eve’s done.”

“The fact that [the legislative committee] wanted to talk to Eve and schedule time for her is really a tribute not only to how well she presented the project and what good research she did, but how important the issue is, and that she came up with something that [has realistic, doable solutions],” Melcher said.

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


Now, Fischer’s research continues. She has begun looking at the price points that would offer a market for fishermen to sustainably, functionally harvest the green crabs.

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

She continues the research with a continuation of funding from the Maine Community Foundation. This, Melcher, said is the first time a UMF scholar has taken advantage of it.

“That’s yet another area in which Eve has been a real pioneer for us,” Melcher said.

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

But ultimately, Fischer, Minor and Melcher have a resounding answer on the best way to tackle the invasion on Maine’s marine habitats: let them eat green crab.

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