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Maine's Invasive Crab Explosion Tapers Off

By Patrick Whittle, The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine  — Scientists say an explosion of invasive green crabs that threatens Maine's lucrative soft-shell clam industry appears to have tapered off, at least temporarily.

The crabs took over hundreds of acres of Maine mud flats last year, pressing regulators and fishermen into action to slow the crustacean's rapid growth.

But University of Maine at Machias marine ecology researcher Brian Beal says the amount of crabs is 10 percent of last year's level at a key Freeport trapping site. He says anecdotes from around Maine's coast suggest the same trend is happening elsewhere.

Beal says the harsh winter may have culled population. The lower abundance coincides with a state effort to prompt crab harvesting. Maine changed rules last month to allow commercial fishermen to harvest and sell green crabs without a special license.