NPR Reports on Lake Tahoe's Crayfish Venture
  • Staff, 9:55am, 8/14/2012

    A crayfish is a fresh water crustacean that looks like a small lobster. These Crayfish found their way to a fisherman's grill.

    Expect to see crayfish on the menus at Lake Tahoe restaurants and pubs. Last month, the state of Nevada approved a new venture that plans to harvest Lake Tahoe’s abundant crayfish population for commercial use. It’s a win-win situation because visitors can dine on the crayfish, and removing them from the lake will actually improve its clarity. Kate McGee of NPR reported on this crayfish craze:

    Around the country, environmentalists are cooking up ways to battle invasive species by serving them up on a platter.

    Over in the mid-Atlantic, they’re broiling up the snakeheads that have taken over local lakes and rivers. In the Southeastern U.S., they’re writing cookbooks to inspire gourmands to get coral reef-destroying lionfish out of the waters and into the frying pan. Now, Lake Tahoe is getting into the act.

    Last month, the state of Nevada gave business entrepreneur Fred Jackson the green light to harvest crayfish in Lake Tahoe. It’s the first time since the 1930s that commercial fishing has been allowed in the lake. Jackson’s venture is small, but the hope is that it will keep the lake clear of algae — and provide a local dish for area visitors.

    Scientists estimate Lake Tahoe is home to around 300 million crayfish. The crustaceans graze on algae at the bottom of the lake — they’re “like cattle in the landscape,” says Sudeep Chandra, a freshwater biologist at the University of Nevada, Reno. Algae cloud the lake waters — but the crayfish only make matters worse by eating them, Chandra says.

    “They can graze some algae down, but when they excrete nutrients, they can stimulate algal production,” he says.

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    Image: Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) image from smagdali‘s Flickr photostream  

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