Tunisia fishermen turn tide to cash in on blue crab menace

phys.org | 10/14/2018 | Staff
KimmyPoo (Posted by) Level 3
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Tunisian fishermen saw the blue crab wreak such havoc on their catches when it first appeared that they nicknamed it after the terrifying jihadists of the Islamic State group.

But now—four years after these scourges of the sea invaded their waters—the predators have turned into prey as fishermen in the North African country cash in on the crustaceans.

Jamel - Ben - Joma - Zayoud - Nets

Jamel Ben Joma Zayoud pulls his nets out of the water off the Mediterranean island of Djerba to find them full of blue crabs with their fearsome-looking spikes.

"Look, there are only Daesh, they've destroyed everything," he says, using the Arabic term for IS that has become the crabs' nickname.

Crab - Native - Red - Sea - Gulf

The blue crab, once a native of the Red Sea, first showed up in the Gulf of Gabes off Tunisia's coast in 2014 and immediately set about snapping up the rich pickings it found.

"It quickly became a curse," Zayoud, 47, tells AFP. "It eats all the best fish."

Explanations - Crab - Portunus - Pelagicus - Way

There are two explanations for how the blue crab, or Portunus Pelagicus, made it all the way to the shores of Tunisia, says researcher Marouene Bedioui, at the National Institute for Marine Sciences and Technologies.

Either their eggs were transported on boats to the region or they arrived as part of a lengthy migration that started when the Suez Canal opened in 1869.

Crabs - Impact

However the crabs turned up, their impact has been damaging.

The hard-up fishermen along the coast, already struggling to make ends meet, felt the pinch as the crabs attacked their nets and the local fish.

Thousand - Fishermen - Plague - Gabes - Sassi

"One thousand, one hundred fishermen have been hit by this plague in Gabes," said Sassi Alaya, a member of the local labour union.

"Nowadays we change our nets three times a year, while before it was once every...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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