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BRUNSWICK, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- They are devastating Maine's valuable shellfish industry, but a Canadian businessman says invasive green crabs has the potential to translate into big business.

At a news conference in Brunswick Thursday, Ron Howse and employees of Tidalwater Seafood Company cooked up a batch of green crabs for reporters to sample. Howse said consumers in Asia and Europe will pay big bucks for the sweet tasting meat in those countries where there is a limited supply. The green crab population has exploded over the past couple of years in Casco Bay and are considered a nuisance. They eat clams and mussels, steal bait from lobster traps, destroy eelgrass and damage salt marshes.

Recent attempts to create a market for the ocean pests have failed and the crabs are typically too small to be picked for a profit.
However, Howse said he is working with a Chinese company to patent a system of extracting and packaging the meat.

"The demand for crabs around the world has accelerated to almost the 5th largest demand for crabs not just green crab all crab even in Europe and Portugal they want more and more and more they have green crab there but they are running out so your timing could,t be better? It's a perfect storm," said Ron Howse, the CEO of the Tidalwater Seafood Company.

The company is considering opening processing plants in the Bangor Area, Lubec and at Brunswick Landing by mid-April. The company could hire as many as 700 people.

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