FishingWild Recipes

Your Guide to Eating Invasives: European Green Crab Stock

Latest posts by Alanna Kieffer (see all)
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Did you know that Newport, Oregon is the Dungeness Crab Capital of the World? That’s right. Newport pulls in more crab that anywhere else on the planet! These crabs are a huge part of our economy, our livelihoods, and for many of us our overall well being, here in the Pacific Northwest. But they are not the only crabs that exist in our waterways.

Oregon is home to some of the most sustainable fisheries in the world and our Dungeness fishery is one of these. Commercially, there are regulations that are used to keep the Dungeness populations in good stock and continuing to reproduce for future generations. These regulations are often referred to as the 3 S’s – size, sex, season. 

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When crabbing along the Oregon Coast there are many different ways and places to do it. People can crab from piers within estuaries and bays, by wading through the water, or off of boats along the shores or out in the ocean. There are different types of traps used depending on what type of crabbing you’d like to do. Traps, rings, snares, all have the ability to pull in a different amount of crabs over different amounts of time. As the name suggests, traps completely trap crabs of the correct size while allowing smaller crabs to escape. Rings are not entirely enclosed, and can be quickly pulled up every 10-15 minutes to see how many crabs have been caught inside the basket. Snares are attached to the end of a fishing pole, when tension is released they open up on the seafloor exposing the bait, when pulled, the snare closes tightly around the crab to trap it and pull it in. Recreationally, bay crabbing can be done year round! While commercial crabbers have set seasons dictated by environmental conditions and wild stocks.

Looking for more crab ideas? Try out John Peake’s recipe for Steamed Maryland Blue Crab!

In our waters we most commonly see two types of native crabs, dungeness and red rock. Red rock crabs are a dark red and have large black tipped claws, while dungeness are a brown and purplish coloration with white tipped claws. Each person is allowed 12 dungeness crabs per day, over a specific size and ONLY male crabs. Red rock crabs have a different set of limits, with a 24/day limit, and NO size or sex restrictions. 

Another type of crab we often see is the Invasive European Green Crab. 

The European green crab (Carcinus maenas) is an invasive species that has become a concern in various coastal areas, including Oregon. These crabs are not native to the Pacific Northwest but have been introduced to the region, likely through ballast water from ships.

Invasive species are known to have negative effects on native ecosystems, the European Green Crab is known to feed on our native clam and crab species! They are known for their ability to outcompete our native species, disrupting local food webs. European green crabs have the potential to spread rapidly, and their presence can be detrimental to commercially and ecologically important species, such as Dungeness crabs and clams.

Harvesting: Limits on these invasive crabs are pretty high at a 35 per bag limit, and whether or not you are going to save them to eat, unfortunately they are a bad enough pest that it is actually illegal to put them back into the ecosystem if you catch them. They are relatively small, thus they have way less meat for the amount of effort put into cleaning them. Most people step on them and feed them to birds… I, on the other hand, will stock pile them in my freezer and use them to make delicious broth!!

With the collection of veggie scraps I also stock in my freezer, I will throw the whole frozen crabs into a pot of boiling water, add my favorite herbs and spices, and voila! You are left with a deliciously rich and fatty crab stock, to use in other dishes or simply drink by the cup full.

Eating Invasives: European Green Crab Stock

Recipe by Alanna Kieffer
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Course: Fishing, Wild Recipes


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  • Green Crabs

  • Vegetables or vegetable scraps (onions, garlic, celery, leeks, carrots, mushrooms, fennel, tomatoes, etc.)

  • Herbs and Spices (bay leaves, peppercorns, parsley, thyme, fennel, dill, ginger, lemongrass, etc.)

  • Something salty (salt, fish sauce, soy sauce, dashi powder, miso, etc.)


  • Add crabs, vegetables, and aromatics to a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a strong simmer, then lower to a low simmer and cook for 30-45 minutes.
  • Strain the liquid through a sieve or lined colander and season with salt, fish sauce, or soy sauce to taste.
  • Drink like so, use as a soup base, or let cool and freeze in plastic containers for later.

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Alanna Kieffer

Alanna is a marine science educator (owner of Shifting Tides NW) and seaweed farmer (Oregon Seaweed) based on the North Oregon Coast. She has worked in intertidal ecosystems for 12 years, teaching people about oceanography and ecology of the area. As an advocate for sustainable seafood, wild food, and with more experience working in coastal food systems, she began tying foraging lessons into her coastal education workshops, using wild food as another tool to connect people to the land they come from.

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