Finding ways to harvest and market the destructive green crab as a delicacy to reduce the crustacean's impact on the local shellfish industry is being investigated by the University of Prince Edward Island.

The green crab is an invasive species that has been multiplying exponentially since arriving in P.E.I. 15 years ago and UPEI researchers have been trying to figure out how to get rid of them.

'You more or less batter them up and deep fry them.' - Luke Poirier, UPEI graduate student

"The green crab is a concern for the shellfish industry and for the government," said UPEI biology professor Pedro Quijon.

"They can eat an insane amount of little oysters very, very quickly, and up-rooting eelgrass, for example, which is really bad."

But now, UPEI is working with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans on a pilot project that would promote the crab as a food item and potentially limit the negative effects it has on other marine life.

Graduate student Luke Poirier is researching the successful green crab market in Italy, hoping to eventually see a similar market established on P.E.I.

"The idea is that you fish them when they moult, which is how crabs grow, and they're soft to the touch," said Poirier.

"And you more or less just batter them up and deep fry them, similar to like an appetizer or something at a restaurant."

The green crab, native to Europe and North Africa, is one of the ten most unwanted species in the world, says a DFO fact sheet. It was first found in eastern Canada in the 1950s in the Bay of Fundy and entered the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 1994.