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Stalin's last army - hordes of gigantic crabs on their way to invade Europe -
The Telegraph - UK ^ | February 28, 2004 | Julius Strauss

Posted on 02/28/2004 9:09:48 AM PST by UnklGene

Stalin's last army - hordes of gigantic crabs on their way to invade Europe -

By Julius Strauss in Kirkenes, northern Norway (Filed: 28/02/2004)

Millions of giant Pacific crabs, whose ancestors were brought to Europe by Joseph Stalin in the 1930s, are marching south along Norway's coast, devouring everything in their path.

The monster crabs, which can weigh up to 25lb and have a claw-span of more than three feet, are proving so resilient that scientists fear they could end up as far south as Gibraltar.

Energised by a mysterious population explosion a decade ago, whole armies of the crustaceans - known as the Kamchatka or Red King Crabs - have already advanced about 400 miles along the roof of Europe, overwhelming the ports of northern Norway.

They now number more than 10 million and have reached the Lofoten Islands off north-west Scandinavia, leaving in their wake what one expert described as "an underwater desert".

In a graphic display of the extent of the crab's submarine domination, some photographs of the ocean floor in Kirkenes in northern Norway show a writhing mass of the ugly, spiny animals.

Northern clams and other shellfish, once so numerous that divers could scoop up handfuls, have been all but eliminated.

Lars Petter Oie, a Norwegian diver who lives nearby, has seen the fjord outside his front door taken over by the crabs.

Plunging through a hole in the ice, another diver surfaced within two minutes with a huge specimen. A snap of its claw is enough to remove a man's finger.

Mr Oie said: "I have been to conferences on the crab and one thing the experts agree on is that they have rarely come across a species that is so adaptable.

"It can survive on almost anything: kelp, dead fish, seaweed and fish eggs. It even eats crushed shells to get the calcium it needs for its shell."

The relentless advance of the crabs has led to calls from some Norwegian marine experts for a government-subsidised "blitz" to try to halt their relentless march south.

Andreas Tveteraas, an analyst in Oslo with the international World Wildlife Fund, said that urgent steps needed to be taken.

"This animal has no natural predators and it's an alien species in the Barents Sea. That's why its numbers are exploding.

"Some scientists say it will stay in the north because it likes the temperature but others think it can go as far south as Gibraltar."

For years the Norwegian government has ignored the underwater advance, undecided whether to treat the crabs as a resource or a pest.

The animal's legs are considered a delicacy and fetch top dollar in Japan and America. Even in Oslo, consumers pay around 200 Norwegian kronor (£15) a pound.

Served with bread, butter, lemon and mayonnaise, the taste and texture of the crab meat is comparable with that of the finest lobster.

One leg is enough to provide a grown man with a filling meal.

At present, some Norwegian fishermen have been granted seasonal licences to catch the Kamchatka crab but stiff regulations on the size of the boat used and other criteria mean they are few in number.

Aasmund Bjordal, of the Department of Marine Resources in the western Norwegian town of Bergen, said: "We're between two policies. One is to get rid of the crabs. The other is to manage it as a fishing resource.

"In the meantime, it's already become an important source of income for some fishermen in the north. The problem is that it may be destroying the fishing stock."

Predicting the crab's long-term effect on the marine ecology is difficult. The Barents Sea provides some of the world's richest fishing grounds and a collapse in stock would be a major disaster.

There is some evidence that the crabs, which often live at great depths, have been eating the eggs of the caplin, a small fish that is a main source of food for cod.

In its native Pacific it faces much sterner competition but has nevertheless edged out other bottom-feeders to reach northern Japan and Vancouver Island.

Transporting the monster crabs to the Barents Sea was originally part of a Stalinist era scheme to provide food for the populations in the north-western Soviet Union.

In the 1990s, for reasons nobody quite understands, the population exploded.

In recognition of the growing threat to the local ecology, Norwegian authorities finally lifted on Jan 1 some of the restrictions on crabbing along part of the shoreline.

As for the fishermen themselves, they are as deeply divided as the government.

Many Norwegian fishermen hate the crabs, blaming them for falling fish stocks and complaining that they get tangled in their nets. But for others, they have brought unprecedented wealth. At the Rallarn, a pub near the harbour, a fierce debate raged this week. Some favour annihilating the crabs, an almost impossible task, while others are tickled pink at the chance to gorge for free on a rare delicacy they find almost at the bottom of their gardens.

Elvis Jenssen, 41, said: "The bloody things hoover up everything off the bottom of the sea and all the fish are disappearing. They came over from Russia and now they're taking over."

But Glenn, a 30-year-old car mechanic, replied: "It's true the seabed now looks like the Sahara but they certainly taste good."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: costalenvironment; crabs; environment; fisheries
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To: AmericaUnited
"Typical! Euroweenies just don't understand that FREE ENTERPRISE could take care of this problem very easily."

The entrepreneur spirit was shot out of them many years ago. They can't do anything on their own. The government must tell them what to do.

We're getting that same training now, in the U.S..

21 posted on 02/28/2004 9:31:57 AM PST by G.Mason (The trouble with practical jokes is that very often they get elected -- Will Rogers)
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To: UnklGene
OK, I am now officially Hungry and ready to do my part to save Europe from this horrible sciurge. Pass the butter, and lets get to saving!
22 posted on 02/28/2004 9:33:09 AM PST by commish (Freedom Tastes Sweetest to Those Who Have Fought to Preserve It)
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To: G.Mason
YOU BET! I would love to have as much crabmeat as I could. What fools. If I lived there I would go into the crab business in a heartbeat. I would tell the enviro-nuts I am protecting nature.
23 posted on 02/28/2004 9:34:30 AM PST by IrishCatholic (Liberals are proof that public education has failed.)
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To: UnklGene
I have the Old Bay and a huge pot.

Somebody else bring the corn.
24 posted on 02/28/2004 9:35:36 AM PST by OpusatFR (Kerrycrats are the Know-Nothings oDQe 21st Century)
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To: UnklGene
Man! I could sell a *hitload of those things in Fresno!
25 posted on 02/28/2004 9:35:49 AM PST by stboz
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To: tiamat
I'm on that same page with you both! I'm bringing some sledgehammers and 200lbs of clarified butter. I'd bet that claw meat is awesome!
26 posted on 02/28/2004 9:39:58 AM PST by 7.62 x 51mm (Dogs have masters; Cats have staff...)
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To: AmericaUnited
What a problem, having hordes of $10/LB critters advancing on you

Too bad Stalin didn't have a taste for lobster!

27 posted on 02/28/2004 9:41:57 AM PST by freedumb2003 (Everyone is stupid! That is why they do all those stupid things! -- H. Simpson.)
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To: 7.62 x 51mm
Why would you need Socialist Norways permission to fish for them, if you stayed outside the territorial limits? According to the reports, they are all over the place?
28 posted on 02/28/2004 9:43:17 AM PST by americanbychoice2
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To: OpusatFR
Corn, don't space for corn, bring on the Crabs. Nothing better than a crab omlette. Or bring the crackers, and whack. UMM
29 posted on 02/28/2004 9:44:16 AM PST by BooBoo1000
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To: americanbychoice2
I wouldn't ask permission, in the first place. 12 miles out and they can't say boo-hoo anyway. Just wait until a child or pet is caught and eaten; the socialist Norweigans will be offering bounties for everyone to *get 'em*.
30 posted on 02/28/2004 9:47:20 AM PST by 7.62 x 51mm (Dogs have masters; Cats have staff...)
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To: 7.62 x 51mm
looks like a business opportunity to me? Wnat to buy a boat and start catching critters? :)
31 posted on 02/28/2004 9:49:30 AM PST by americanbychoice2
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To: UnklGene

32 posted on 02/28/2004 9:52:30 AM PST by Lady Jag (It's in the bag)
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To: UnklGene; snippy_about_it

33 posted on 02/28/2004 9:53:01 AM PST by SAMWolf (I even have boring dreams...I fall asleep in my sleep!)
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To: commish
We must get the UN involved immediately. They can easily spend the next 12 years passing resolutions ordering the crabs to comply with their previous resolutions. Oops, bad idea - they'd set up a crabs for food program - never mind. Pass the butter!
34 posted on 02/28/2004 9:53:32 AM PST by talleyman (Caviar emptor (a warning from the sturgeon general))
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To: americanbychoice2
I was thinking the same thing... Freeze them immediately and fly them back here to America, where they'd bring top dollar. Heck, crab's almost $21/lb here in southcentral Penna, now.

You could probably pay-off the boat purchase in under 5 days, if you really humped. Stay out for a month or so, and there's no telling what you could make.
35 posted on 02/28/2004 9:57:08 AM PST by 7.62 x 51mm (Dogs have masters; Cats have staff...)
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To: UnklGene
In the 1990s, for reasons nobody quite understands, the population exploded.

Global Warming? Global Cooling?

36 posted on 02/28/2004 10:02:26 AM PST by Calamari (Pass enough laws and everyone is guilty of something.)
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To: UnklGene
At present, some Norwegian fishermen have been granted seasonal licences to catch the Kamchatka crab but stiff regulations on the size of the boat used and other criteria mean they are few in number.

Aasmund Bjordal, of the Department of Marine Resources in the western Norwegian town of Bergen, said: "We're between two policies. One is to get rid of the crabs. The other is to manage it as a fishing resource.

How typically socialist. With their stupid permits and "criteria" (probably 5 or 600 pages of regulations), they're stopping the natural predators (man) from taking care of the problem. They can't see a gold mine while they're tripping over the nuggets.

Stand back and let the fishing enterprises come in with large boats, harvesting equipment, and a large freezer plant. They'll ship 'em all over the world at bargain prices, and soon have the seafloor all nice and peaceful again. Sustained fishing should keep the numbers down enough for the other fish to replenish themselves.

Idiots. And now I'm hungry. I LOVE crab. Zatarain's Crab Boil, couple of bay leaves, my big 4 gallon lobster kettle, a pair of pliers, nutmeat pickers, and LOTS of butter melted and clarified. Put a big pile of napkins in the middle of the kitchen table and STAND BACK!

Isn't me - it's some lucky Dutchman. Wish it were me.

37 posted on 02/28/2004 10:03:38 AM PST by AnAmericanMother (. . . sed, ut scis, quis homines huiusmodi intellegere potest?. . .)
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To: SAMWolf

I'm getting hungry


38 posted on 02/28/2004 10:03:45 AM PST by Lady Jag (It's in the bag)
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To: 7.62 x 51mm; americanbychoice2
Wouldn't work. They'd just imprison you and seize your boat.

These people are deluded.

At least crab is cheaper here -- around $15/lb last time I looked at the Publix.

39 posted on 02/28/2004 10:05:12 AM PST by AnAmericanMother (. . . sed, ut scis, quis homines huiusmodi intellegere potest?. . .)
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Bring 'em on!
40 posted on 02/28/2004 10:05:53 AM PST by Bon mots
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