Crustacean devours juvenile clams and muscles in the Sacca: dramatic situation also for oysters
11, Oct 2023
«All the matured seed has been eaten, all the purchased seed has been eaten. Right now it is difficult to make a prediction, but in 2024 we will certainly not be able to make the 50/55 thousand quintals that we will make this year. It will be a drastic loss». This comment from Luigino Marchesini, president of the Scardovari Fishermen's Consortium, is enough to understand the magnitude of the drama that, because of the blue crab, these areas, which have always been devoted to the farming of clams, muscles and oysters, are experiencing.
«We are now going to deplete stocks» Marchesini continues. «There's that little bit of mature product left, but in a week, maximum two, we'll all be home. The whole production cycle of that year and a half/two years that could have ensured our survival is missing».
Because of the blue crab, for now, the area is at 20 percent less production than last year. The consortium is billing around 50 million euros when fully operational with an annual production of 50 thousand quintals of clams and 25 thousand quintals of mussels. «If this year the reduction is going to be around 20 percent - Marchesini explains - next year we will not even make these, between clams and mussels. With the loss of seed and that of the clam, we will have a minimum decline of 80 percent and up in 2024».
Add to this the bad news coming from Tunisia and Greece, which are doing business importing blue crab into Italy. But Marchesini, who has already had his say on this, is keen to retort, lapidary on one point: «This crab business is not an economy on which you can base, it has prices that are too low to be able to make an economy: 1.3 euros or 1.6 euros, not to mention the areas where it is sold at 50 cents, these are not figures with which you can base an economy» the president stresses. «We have no margins to be able to keep the consortium going. If the clam verace and the mussel are missing, the Scardovari Consortium no longer exists».
What will happen now to the Italian clam market? «We will be invaded by foreign clams," Marchesini answers confidently. Or a few small areas will be found that sell them but at very high prices. Scardovari and Goro clams will hardly be found except in small quantities. I also told Minister Lollobrigida in the meeting we had and I repeat it now: in 2024 the clam will not give income to fishermen. And that will be another big social problem, for sure».
The music is no different for oysters, again in the Scardovari area. «They eat oysters in smaller quantities but they eat them – points out Alessandro Greguoldo, partner and managing director of Tarbouriech Italia, an oyster farm in the Sacca degli Scardovari. «I had a loss of more than 30 percent on freshly pasted oysters, so small in size: as a loss, we are around 60 percent as far as adult oysters are concerned. These, rather than being eaten, are pulled off: the crabs drop them. They go in search of food, climb up and pull down from the ropes the adult oysters, which, in the summer time, are filled with parasites and are already weaker, becoming heavier. We still lose them: some predated, some dropped from their sites».
Losses as a percentage? «It’s hard to make a prediction for now: not having harvested everything yet, we don't know the amount yet» adds Greguoldo. «On adult oysters, on those we would have ready for the next few months we have a sure loss of 70 percent».