How the Mediterranean became the world’s most invaded sea

How the Mediterranean became the world's most invaded sea

In October 2014, Lotfi Radaoui used to be travelling the shallow sandy waters close to Ghannouch, a small coastal the town in the Gabes Gulf in Tunisia, with a gaggle of native fishermen. Traversing the beds of seagrass and algae, the fishermen made an bizarre catch.

Tangled of their web used to be a species of crab, Portunus pelagicus or blue crab, that wasn’t local to the area. More outstanding nonetheless, used to be that the fishermen did not to find only one blue crab – their nets had captured 24 of them.

Radaoui, at the time researcher at the Faculty of Science of Tunis at the University of Tunis El Manar, famous the discovery with pastime. Little did he know, then again, {that a} yr later this non-native, or alien species would change into a countrywide curse.

Soon after, the blue crab inhabitants exploded. Hakim Gribaa, a fisherman on the island of Djerba, recollects it as though it have been the previous day. “It was panic stations,” says Gribaa. “The crab represented almost 70% of my fishing catches and I did not know what to do with it.”

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The blue crabs have been prolific, reproducing as much as 4 instances a yr with litters of 100,000 in keeping with feminine. This crustacean is “very aggressive”, says Gribaa – it destroys nets, and nips fishermen and different fish. The terror the crabs brought about used to be such that they became identified in the neighborhood as “Daesh”, the Arabic acronym for the workforce calling itself Islamic State.

At first, the fisherfolk’s livelihoods have been overturned. “We were clueless,” says Fethi Naloufi, a fishing engineer and head of the Interprofessional Group of Fishery Products in Zarzis, a public organisation liable for selling fisheries and aquaculture in Tunisia. Even eliminating the crab bycatch became a problem. “They remained piled up in the port, or they were thrown back into the sea,” says Naloufi.

The blue crab has upended Tunisia’s fishing trade in additional tactics than one. But after the preliminary surprise, it has now change into certainly one of the area’s most sought-after seafoods.

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