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Italy tackles invasion of blue crabs by eating them

Italian premier Giorgia Meloni pictured holding plate of cooked blue crabs for Sunday lunch.

Italy has allocated €2.9 million to tackle the rapid spread of blue crabs, an invasive species that is threatening the marine ecosystem and is causing havoc in the country's lagoons.

The aggressive crab, which has no natural predators in Italian waters, presents major problems for the fishing sector and poses a particular threat to the harvesting of clams and mussels.

Native to the North American Atlantic coast, the blue crab has been present in Italy for around a decade but a recent surge in its population is resulting in increasingly serious problems along the northeast coast.

The fast-multiplying crabs, whose spread has been linked to rising sea temperatures, are responsible for devastating stocks of eels and shellfish as well as ripping open fishing nets with their powerful claws.

In parallel with the government's economic incentives to catch and destroy the alien crustaceans, restaurants have begun adding the blue crab to their menus.

Italy's agriculture minister Francesco Lollobrigida on Sunday posted a picture on social media of his sister-in-law, Italian premier Giorgia Meloni, holding a plate of cooked blue crabs.

"Today we eat blue crabs! Exceptional", wrote Lollobrigida from the holiday farmhouse in Italy's southern Puglia region after his family's recent trip to Albania.

Meloni's Sunday lunch menu was welcomed by farmers' lobby group Coldiretti which said that by eating the "killer of the seas" it would be possible to "transform what is now a disaster into an opportunity".

Noting its "delicate and tasty" flavour, Coldiretti said in a statement that the blue crab can be eaten in a range of salads and pasta dishes.

Photo Francesco Lollobrigida - Facebook

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