DOI: 10.3390/jmse12020310 ISSN: 2077-1312

Soft-Shell Production of the Invasive Atlantic Blue Crab Callinectes sapidus in the Lesina Lagoon (SE Italy): A First Assessment

Lucrezia Cilenti, Nicola Lago, Antonio Oscar Lillo, Daniel Li Veli, Tommaso Scirocco, Giorgio Mancinelli
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Civil and Structural Engineering

The current invasion of the Mediterranean Sea by the Atlantic blue crab Callinectes sapidus requires the implementation of effective strategies of control and management. In native areas, the species is highly appreciated as a hard- and soft-shell seafood, and hard-shell fisheries are developing in a number of invaded countries. Here, to verify alternative approaches for enhancing the commercial value of the species, we carried out a pilot experiment to test a flow-through system for the production of soft-shell blue crabs. Fifty crabs were collected in the Lesina lagoon (Adriatic Sea, Italy) and inspected for the coloration of the line on the distal edge of the fifth pereiopod. Accordingly, they were grouped into three groups showing no, white, and red lines, symptomatic of the progression of the pre-molt phase, and maintained for 31 days in a flow-through pond system. The overall mortality rate determined during the trial was similar across the three groups and ranged between 10 and 20%, indicating that the flow-through system was effective for rearing the crabs. In addition, the molting rate was 10%, 65%, and 85% for individuals at an early, intermediate, and advanced pre-molt stage, confirming that the line coloration can be used as an effective indicator of the advancement of the molting process. Our study provides the first contribution towards the introduction in the Mediterranean fishery sector of novel procedures and practices for the production of soft-shell blue crabs, which may represent a cost-effective strategy to enhance the capture and commercialization of this invasive species as a high-quality and valuable shellfish product.

More from our Archive