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October 9, 2014


Farmed Hairy Crabs Everywhere


Shrimp News: This article is accompanied by eleven great pictures of hairy crabs, all taken by the article’s author, Jamie Fullerton.


The Chinese mitten crab or hairy crab(Eriocheir sinensis) has its spiny, fur-adorned claw clamped firmly around eastern China.  Named da zha xie in Mandarin, the crabs seem to be everywhere.  They are arranged in orderly regiments in every supermarket; they are swimming in tanks at seafood shops; and their distinctive orange silhouettes are stickered on every grocery and convenience shop window.




This is because of the happy coincidence of the maturation of the crabs’ prized roe coinciding annually with China’s Golden Week national holiday.  The roe matures around two weeks before the early-October holiday.


They are not so popular in Europe, where they are considered destructive pests.  In Scotland, sightings of the species earlier this year led to fears that the marauding critters, which are unfussy eaters and hugely resilient, had their claws pointed at the local salmon population.  “They can grow to the size of a dinner plate, and are listed as one of the world’s worst 100 alien species,” a BBC News report declared. “They eat native species, they destroy river banks, and they eat fish eggs.”  In Germany in 2012, the crabs were accused of causing millions of pounds worth of damage to dams, and in 2013, the Germans started exporting them to China.


Sales in China have been down this year, probably because of President Xi Jinping’s clampdown on luxury consumption by government officials.  Many of those feeling the crab pinch are based at Yangcheng Lake, which supports hundreds of hairy crab farmers and restaurateurs.  Despite the slowdown in sales, the area still teems with wholesale sellers—plus tourists keen to head to the source.



Writer Jamie Fullerton reports: Eager to learn more about this equally maligned and loved creature (and of course to eat loads of it), I headed to the main crab farmer strip next to the lake.  Yao Jinliang of the Xiao Yao Xie Fangcrab farming company was happy to show me his scuttling stash.  In 2013, Yao said he sold around 40,000-50,000 hairy crabs, and although he was concerned about the reports of lower sales this year, it was too early in the season to forecast sales.  I bought one male and one female for $21.20.


Source:  Hairy Crabs Have Taken Over East ChinaJamie Fullerton.  All photos by Jamie Fullerton (Jamie Fullerton).  October 7, 2014.

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