Silly German’s, Just Let People Catch Them! – Crayfish

You may not have heard, but there’s a minor plague of USA Crayfish in Germany. They are considered invasive and harbor a disease of crayfish to which they are largely immune, but that kills off the European crayfish. So are on the list for extirpation. Yet Germany has a law saying folks can’t catch and eat the tasty little critters. Yet they have just passed some other rule saying ONE professional fisherman CAN catch them. Silly Germans. Just make a rule that folks can catch and eat invasive critters and you can have lots and lots of the invaders removed in no time. (Though do advise local shops to stock more Louisiana Hot Sauce ;-)

Berlin crayfish panic as Tiergarten overrun with red crustaceans

A wildlife group has been receiving daily calls from people reporting marauding crustaceans in Berlin’s Tiergarten. The invasive species are often seen scuttling outside the Spanish Embassy.

[Lots of amusing pictures and videos of crayfish ommitted. -E.M.Smith]

Parts of Berlin have been overrun with scuttling red crayfish that are likely trying to expand their territory, a German conservation network announced on Thursday.

The invasive red swamp crawfish have been spotted scuttling around the paths of the Tiergarten park and even parading outside the neighboring Spanish Embassy.

The red critters are often spotted in the park, but they have been appearing in much larger numbers this year, picking up considerable attention on social media.

The Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) said it has received large numbers of sighting reports in the past weeks. It said the increased numbers are problematic for the ecosystem of Berlin.

The Tiergarten population of the non-native crayfish likely took hold from people dumping them in the ponds there. They are a popular addition to aquariums given their striking appearance and their hardy nature.

Measurements by the fisheries office revealed that the water quality of Tiergarten was quite high, meaning the crayfish were probably migrating due to population expansion.

The North American species often squeeze out local populations of crayfish and carry diseases. They were labeled as an invasive species of high importance by the European Commission last year.

NABU, Germany’s largest nature conservation group, called on aquarium owners to refrain from releasing exotic animals into Berlin’s water systems.

Under poaching laws, it is forbidden to catch and grill the tasty crustaceans.

So so silly… Laws to protect invasive species that are being pests.

They need to just issues visas for a few Cajuns to come on over and set up steamed crawdaddy carts… they know how to catch the critters too.

Though it does look like they have seen the light a little bit, and after what looks like waiting until the crayfish population is thoroughly entrenched, have issued some kind of permit to a professional fisherman to catch the bugs.

Berlin finds culinary solution to combat invading crayfish

The German capital has been suffering from a plague of rapidly reproducing invasive crayfish. Now, health authorities have given the all-clear for a simple solution to reduce their numbers: Eating them.

A Berlin fishery has been given permission to catch an introduced species of crayfish from two of the city’s lakes and sell them for human consumption, German media reported on Sunday.

Populations of the Louisiana crayfish (Procambarus clarkii), originally from the southern USA and northern Mexico, have taken on plague proportions since last summer in lakes in the Tiergarten and Britzer Garten parks in the German capital.

The permission to catch the creatures, which runs to the end of 2018, was given after Berlin environmental authorities ascertained that they did not contain dangerous levels of heavy metals or other toxins.

Caught in their hundreds

“No limits were exceeded” during examinations of the animals, Derk Ehlert, a wild fauna expert from the Berlin Senate’s environmental department, told Germany’s DPA news agency.

Ehlert said that more than 1,600 had found their way into fishing nets since the permission to catch them had been granted a week ago.

“But we expect declining quantities over the course of the year,” he added.

No poaching!

Catching the crayfish, which also goes under the unflattering name of “mudbug,” was still forbidden to everyone else,
Ehlert said.

The small family-owned fishery from Berlin’s Spandau district that has received the permit intends to sell the crayfish to restaurants and private persons.

The crayfish plague in Berlin was noticed only last year, when the red crustaceans, which can reach a length of 15 centimeters (6 inches), were sighted on streets and paths in Tiergarten park.

They go on to say how to prepare them in the southern style…

Just so tepid, silly, and doomed to fail. ONE permit to only 2 ponds, and it expires end of this year. As long as just a few juveniles below eating size (as small as a paperclip…) are left in the ponds, the problem is not over. These guys also can walk decent distances as they spread to new waters, love to follow canals, and in Texas, at least, a bunch of them live entirely on land making tunnels underground (one presumes there is enough rain water to make mud down in their holes).

I used to catch them in the irrigation canals when the water was shut off for winter. Just turn over a rock, and there would be a few little ones hiding. Bigger ones tended to be in holes in the banks, but harder for a 5 year old to get.

Anyone who thinks catching the table sized ones (one presumes with a net) is going to “fix” this problem is just silly.

One wonders, though, if these are the Mutant Ninja Marbled Crayfish!!! that multiply by the hundreds, per quarter, each? If so, well, it will take more than a few thousand in a net to stop them.

Mutant all-female crayfish prompt invasive species fears

The self-cloning crustaceans exploded amongst Germany’s aquarium hobbyists in the 1990s. Now it has become an invasive species in countries as far away as Japan and Madagascar.

The government of Canada warned the public on Sunday not to keep marbled crayfish as pets amidst a growing controversy over the self-cloning species that does not need males to survive.

Marbled crayfish, a freshwater crustacean, arrived on the scene between 25 and 30 years ago as mutated descendants of the slough crayfish, but with three sets of each chromosome instead of two – making them all female and able to reproduce without mating.
They came to widespread attention when they became extremely popular on the pet market in Germany in the 1990s.

According to a new study published in Nature, Ecology and Evolution, a problem soon emerged: marbled crayfish, also known by their German name Marmorkrebs, are born ready to reproduce, and multiply so quickly that populations can easily get out of hand.

“If you have one animal, essentially, three months later, you will have 200 or 300,”
neurophysiologist Wolfgang Stein told Canadian public broadcaster CBC.

Crayfish inherit the earth

Desperate pet owners dumped the extra crayfish in nearby lakes, becoming an invasive species in countries as far-flung as Madagascar, Japan, and across Europe. This prompted the European Union to issue “a total ban on the possession, trade, transport, production and release of these species in the wild” in 2014.

The report in Nature, Ecology and Evolution said that the species now occupies a space the size of the US state of Indiana in Madagascar.

Although there have been no reports of marbled crayfish in the wild in North America, the US states of Missouri and Tennessee have issued preemptive bans on the trade of the crustacean.

Since it looks like they are in the wild somewhere in Europe, that’s going to be an, ahem, ever growing problem.

I suggest all you EU folks start changing your “poaching” laws and learn how to property poach a crawdaddy…

Submitted by sofp Updated: October 01, 2015

This recipe is from chef Johan Svensson of New York’s Riingo restaurant (


25-35 crayfish
8 qts water
12 qts water
2 cups salt
1 12 oz bottle of beer
2 tablespoons sugar
1-2 bunches dill


1. Bring the 8 quarts of water to a boil and blanch the crayfish for 2 minutes and then plunge them into ice water. Discard water. 2. Bring the 12 quarts of water, dill, salt, beer and sugar to a boil. 3. Add crayfish and cook for 5 minutes. 4. Remove crayfish and place in a container that can be sealed. Pour liquid over the crayfish, cover, and place in fridge for 24 hours. 5. Remove crayfish from liquid and serve cold. This dish is sometimes served with an herb aioli dipping sauce.

It is also best to “purge” the crawdads in salt water prior to that whole cooking thing. They are called “mud bugs” for a reason…

But get cracking! At 100 / month expansion ratio from one you’ve got a LOT of eating to do!

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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12 Responses to Silly German’s, Just Let People Catch Them! – Crayfish

  1. waterside4 says:

    “The US state of Indiana in Madagascar” schureiy shum mischtake my Chiefo?

  2. philjourdan says:

    There are over 330 species of crawdads in Louisiana alone (and all very tasty). They are called mud bugs, but then many people have learned to eat bugs because they are impossible to eradicate. As you said, just declare them fair game and let Germans learn to love them. It will be a welcome respite to all their dishes containing liver!

    I like my etouffe’

  3. H.R. says:

    That’s from the article E.M. excerpted and it made sense to me in context, though it could have been helped along with a bit of judicious punctuation.

    Put down the crawfish. Keep your hands where we can see them and back away from the buffet table. 😜

  4. Thomas C Bakewell says:

    One suspects the winters in Berlin are a bit harsher than they are in South Louisiana. So seeing the mudbugs doing well in Berlin is a bit of a surprise. Any marsh/swamp biologists out there with comments to offer?

  5. H.R. says:

    @Thomas C Bakewell: Here is link to a table of links to maps that show the range of various types of crawfish.

    I’m headed back to that page to click on more of the links. Things I never knew about crawfish…

  6. E.M.Smith says:


    “a space the size of the US state of Indiana in Madagascar.”

    @Thomas C Bakewell:

    Crawdads are remarkably robust… I think this is the one in question as it was deliberately imported to Europe and is a big one:

    The signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) is a North American species of crayfish. It was introduced to Europe in the 1960s to supplement the Scandinavian Astacus astacus fisheries, which were being damaged by crayfish plague, but the imports turned out to be a carrier of that disease. The signal crayfish is now considered an invasive species across Europe, Japan, and California ousting native species there.
    The signal crayfish is native to North America west of the Rocky Mountains, including the Canadian province of British Columbia, and the U.S. states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. It was introduced to California in 1912 into the San Lorenzo River watershed and from there rapidly spread throughout the state. The only native crayfish remaining in California is the Shasta crayfish (Pacifastacus fortis), where efforts are being made to create a barrier to signal crayfish invasion. Within North America, it has also been introduced to Nevada, and the populations in Utah may be the results of introductions. It has also been found in Alaska, specifically Kodiak Island, in the Buskin River and Buskin Lake. It is listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List.

    Yeah, Idaho and Alaska… talk about your freezers…

    I suspect it would do just fine in Sweden, Finland, and even Russia…

    But it could be this one, the range described is a better match to what the article described as the ones there:

    Range and range expansion
    The native range of P. clarkii is from northern Mexico and far southeastern New Mexico, through the Gulf States to the Florida Panhandle, as well as north through the Mississippi Basin to southern Illinois and Ohio. It has also been introduced, sometimes deliberately, outside its natural range to countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and elsewhere in the Americas. In northern Europe, the populations are self maintaining, but not expanding, while in southern Europe, P. clarkii is multiplying and actively colonising new territory, at the expense of the native crayfish, Astacus astacus and Austropotamobius spp. Individuals are reported to be able to cross many miles of relatively dry ground, especially in wet seasons, although the aquarium trade and anglers may have hastened the spread in some areas ( anglers using P. clarkii as bait are thought to have introduced it to the American state of Washington). Attempts have also been made to use P. clarkii as a biological control organism, to reduce levels of the snails involved in the lifecycle of schistosomiasis, leading to the dispersal of P. clarkii in, for instance, Kenya.

    Illinois & Ohio are pretty cold in winter…

    Given that at least 2 very hardy species have been introduced into Europe, and look to be more widely distributed than just Berlin, Y’all need to get crackin’ on dem Lill’ Ol’ Lobsters!

  7. philjourdan says:

    I like this sentence:

    ” Individuals are reported to be able to cross many miles of relatively dry ground, especially in wet seasons,”

    Doesn’t that mean it is ‘wet ground’? :-) Unless it is dry rain. With AGW, you never know any more.

  8. Richard Bellew says:

    “If you have one animal, essentially, three months later, you will have 200 or 300,” neurophysiologist Wolfgang Stein told Canadian public broadcaster CBC.

    Trekkies know all about these critters. They’re called Tribbles and they’re born pregnant. We’re all doomed I tell you!

  9. Chris in Calgary says:

    The stupid permitting regulations aside, evolution means the survival of the fittest. If a hardier species of crayfish is introduced, it will outcompete the native crayfish, and replace them. More crayfish for all. Sometimes fighting invasive species is not only doomed and a waste of resources, but a fight against the natural order.

    It’s ironic that Germans are stuck in the grip of nostalgia for native crayfish species, yet are busy implementing “invasive” immigration and demographic policies that are radically transforming their country, and all of Europe. Too bad they can’t see their raw inconsistency for what it is.

    Something about can’t see the forest for the trees….

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    All but one species of native California crayfish have been wiped out by the imports from back east and up north. I’ve noticed exactly zero difference… These things do eat just about anything, though, so I could see a “maybe” on impacting something with nummy eggs… or tasty fish fry… or soft water based larval stages…

    IIRC, there’s a giant crayfish from Tasmania? that runs to about the size of modest lobsters… Them I’d like to have ;-)

    Yes, here it is:

    The Tasmanian giant freshwater crayfish (Astacopsis gouldi), also called Tasmanian giant freshwater lobster, is the largest freshwater invertebrate in the world. The species is only found in the rivers below 400 metres (1,300 ft) above sea level in northern Tasmania, an island-state of Australia. It is listed as an endangered species on the IUCN Red List due to overfishing and habitat degradation, experts estimate there are less than 100,000 in the wild.

    The diet of the freshwater crayfish varies with age, but predominantly consists of decaying wood, leaves and their associated microbes. They may also eat small fish, insects, rotting animal flesh and other detritus when available. A. gouldi is very long-lived, surviving for up to 60 years. It has previously been reported to attain weights of up to 6 kilograms (13 lb) and measure over 80 centimetres (31 in) long; however, in recent years the majority of larger specimens are 2–3 kilograms (4.4–6.6 lb). When fully mature the species has no natural predators due to its large size, while smaller individuals can be prey of platypus, river blackfish and rakali.

    Somebody really needs to start farming them… 2 to 6 kg and feasts on old wood and leaves…

  11. Chris in Calgary says:

    Just saw this: The report in Nature, Ecology and Evolution said that the species now occupies a space the size of the US state of Indiana in Madagascar.

    That says a space the size of the US state of Indiana. That means the volume of crayfish is equal to that of the state of Indiana. That’s a colossal number of crayfish.

    The state of Indiana has an area of 36418 sq. mi.. Let’s say the jurisdiction of Indiana goes down a mile. (Plenty of mines in Indiana.) That gives a volume of 36418 cubic miles.

    Say a crayfish is 7 in. long and 2 in. around. That gives 84 cubic inches, or one three-trillionth of a cubic mile. 3 trillion times 36418 = 100 quadrillion crayfish.

    ‘Yer welcome. :)

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    @Chris in Calgary:

    I think that the number depends on how thinly the Crayfish Paste as been spread by passing cars….

    (Commence groaning now…)

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