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Public warned against eating invasive crabs in Taiwan

Little is known about the crab’s dietary habits, raising concerns about its potential toxicity

Amphithrax armatus, a newly identified crab in Taiwan. (CNA, National Academy of Marine Research photo)

Amphithrax armatus, a newly identified crab in Taiwan. (CNA, National Academy of Marine Research photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Authorities have issued a cautionary advisory against the consumption of a newly discovered crab species in Taiwan, whose population has seen a significant rise in recent years, raising potential health concerns for those who may consume them.

The fuchsia-colored crab, identified as Amphithrax armatus, has been increasingly captured in southern Taiwanese waters since its initial documentation in 2012 and 2013.

Fishermen in Kaohsiung’s Sizihwan have reported harvesting up to 1,000 of these crustaceans daily, per CNA. Additional sightings have been reported in locations such as Tainan’s Yuguang Island and Pingtung’s coastal Jiadong Township, according to the National Academy of Marine Research (NAMR) in a recent Facebook post.

While this crab species is native to Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama, its population surge in Taiwan has prompted NAMR to initiate extensive monitoring and research. The academy strongly advises against consuming the crab, citing potential unknown risks associated with its consumption.

Notably, there is no recorded economic use for this crab species, and limited information is available regarding its feeding habits. NAMR has raised concerns that, if the crab feeds on toxic organisms similar to mosaic reef crabs, it could potentially be poisonous.

This cautionary advisory stands in stark contrast to the situation in Italy, where the surging population of predatory blue crabs has led to their incorporation into local cuisine as a method of control. In Tuscany, restaurants have embraced the invasive species, with gourmets actively seeking out dishes featuring these crabs, according to AP.