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.

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Berlin responds to crayfish plague
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Berlin responds to crayfish plague
Fisherman Klaus Hidde poses for the photographer with a North American crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) fished from a little lake at Berlin's Britzer Garten, Germany, May 11, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
Fisherman Matthias Engels shows North American crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) fished from a little lake at Berlin's Britzer Garten, Germany, May 11, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
A fisherman fishing North American crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) from a little lake at Berlin's Britzer Garten, Germany, May 11, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
North American crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) fished from little lakes at Berlin's Britzer Garten by authorised fishermen are pictured in Berlin, Germany, May 11, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
Fisherman Matthias Engels poses for the photographer with North American crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) fished from Berlin's city centre Tiergarten Park in Berlin, Germany, May 11, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
North American crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) fished from Berlin's city centre Tiergarten Park are on display at a market stall of covered market 'Markthalle Neun' in Berlin, Germany, May 11, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
North American crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) fished from Berlin's city centre Tiergarten Park are pictured for sale at a market stall of covered market 'Markthalle Neun' in Berlin, Germany, May 11, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
Fisherman Matthias Engels prepares North American crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) fished from Berlin's city centre Tiergarten Park for sale at a market stall of covered market 'Markthalle Neun' in Berlin, Germany, May 11, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
Customers are pictured next to North American crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) fished from Berlin's city centre Tiergarten Park on sale at a market stall of covered market 'Markthalle Neun' in Berlin, Germany, May 11, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 08: Fisherman Klaus Hidde (R) and nature and landscape guide Malte Frerichs (R) catching red swamp crayfish (procambarus clarkii, also known as Louisiana crayfish) during a media opportunity in waters in Tiergarten park on May 8, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. The red swamp crayfish is native to northern Mexico and the southern United States and is believed to have been introduced to lakes and creeks in and around Berlin by people who had them as pets. The crayfish have multiplied dramatically, so much so that Berlin authorities, fearing negative effects of an invasive species, have given fisherman Klaus Hidde a license to catch as many of them as he can. Authorities are allowing him to sell the creatures, which are red and on average about 15cm long, to local restaurants. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 08: Caught red swamp crayfish (procambarus clarkii, also known as Louisiana crayfish) are presented during a media opportunity in waters in Tiergarten park on May 8, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. The red swamp crayfish is native to northern Mexico and the southern United States and is believed to have been introduced to lakes and creeks in and around Berlin by people who had them as pets. The crayfish have multiplied dramatically, so much so that Berlin authorities, fearing negative effects of an invasive species, have given fisherman Klaus Hidde a license to catch as many of them as he can. Authorities are allowing him to sell the creatures, which are red and on average about 15cm long, to local restaurants. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 08: Fisherman Klaus Hidde shows Caught red swamp crayfish (procambarus clarkii, also known as Louisiana crayfish) during a media opportunity in waters in Tiergarten park on May 8, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. The red swamp crayfish is native to northern Mexico and the southern United States and is believed to have been introduced to lakes and creeks in and around Berlin by people who had them as pets. The crayfish have multiplied dramatically, so much so that Berlin authorities, fearing negative effects of an invasive species, have given fisherman Klaus Hidde a license to catch as many of them as he can. Authorities are allowing him to sell the creatures, which are red and on average about 15cm long, to local restaurants. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 08: Fisherman Klaus Hidde (R) and nature and landscape guide Malte Frerichs (R) catching red swamp crayfish (procambarus clarkii, also known as Louisiana crayfish) during a media opportunity in waters in Tiergarten park on May 8, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. The red swamp crayfish is native to northern Mexico and the southern United States and is believed to have been introduced to lakes and creeks in and around Berlin by people who had them as pets. The crayfish have multiplied dramatically, so much so that Berlin authorities, fearing negative effects of an invasive species, have given fisherman Klaus Hidde a license to catch as many of them as he can. Authorities are allowing him to sell the creatures, which are red and on average about 15cm long, to local restaurants. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
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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)

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