Invasive green crabs that have caused major problems for native species like eelgrass at Nova Scotia’s Kejimkujik National Park Seaside could be the latest solution to reducing plastic pollution in the ocean.
Parks Canada has teamed up with a McGill University professor to find a way to turn the shells of the pesky crabs into a biodegradable plastic that could be used to make cutlery, cups or plates.
Crabs harvested from the park just south of Liverpool, N.S., will be shipped this spring to Montreal, where Audrey Moores has developed a non-toxic way to transform a polymer naturally found in crustacean shells into a hard, opaque plastic-like material.
“What we know is that if we take regular crab shells, shrimp shells, lobster shells, we have very good results, so we’re fairly confident that the green crab should not be different,” said Moores.
Unlike regular plastic, the material that Moores is left with will degrade in the ocean. But more research is needed to find out just how long that process will take, Moores said.
It’s exciting research for Gabrielle Beaulieu, project manager for the eelgrass conservation restoration project at Kejimkujik Seaside. She stumbled across it recently and wondered if it could help in Kejimkujik’s decades-long battle with green crabs.
“Invasive species may be detrimental to the ecosystem, however there’s always surprise solutions that we have to be open to,” Beaulieu said.