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Berlin to get rid of crayfish — by eating them

Timothy Jones with dpa
May 6, 2018

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.

Hand holding crayfish
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/B. Pedersen

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.

Read more: Venomous fire ants invade Japan

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.

Procambarus clarkii
The crayfish is on a European Commission list of potentially damaging introduced speciesImage: picture-alliance/blickwinkel/M. Woike

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.

Lake in Berlin's Tiergarten
This lake in the Tiergarten has plenty of unwelcome residentsImage: DW/Elisabeth Jahn

Tips from the kitchen

If you are lucky enough to get hold of some of the crayfish, you could cook them using the traditional method employed in the American South, where they are first cleaned in salt water, then put live into a large pot of boiling water already seasoned with salt, cayenne pepper, lemon, garlic, onion and bay leaves.

Boil for 4 minutes and then allow to stand covered for 5-20 minutes according to taste.  Serve with potatoes and sweetcorn.

Or there is this method from the prestigious Daniel et Denise restaurant in Lyon, France, courtesy of master chef Joseph Viola: Omelette stuffed with crayfish

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