Berlin responds to crayfish plague: If you can't beat them, eat them

BERLIN, May 7 (Reuters) - North American crayfish that spilled en masse onto Berlin streets last summer will soon be appearing in the city's restaurants after its government authorized fishermen to remove them from public ponds.

The red swamp crayfish, or Procambarus clarkii, are on the European Union's list of invasive alien species but also popular in German aquariums.

It is likely some were abandoned by their owners and started multiplying in favorable weather conditions, the German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union believes.

To halt the invasion, the Berlin government has licensed a local business to fish the 6 inch crustaceans, which carry infections that native crayfish are not resistant to, out of the ponds in public parks that they have taken over.

The license runs until the end of the year, and some 1,600 crayfish have been captured so far, Berlin senator Derk Ehlert told German news agency dpa.

Tests have established that the crayfish are fit for consumption, and the fishermen plan to sell them to local restaurants, dpa said.

(Reporting by Laura Dubois; Editing by Joseph Nasr and John Stonestreet)