As in all crustaceans, crabs need to shed their old shell in order to grow. The European green crab Carcinus maenas L. is an abundant but relatively low valued crustacean in its hard form. On the contrary, soft crabs have a high market value for game fishing as well as for human consumption, but is a rare and seasonal product. In fact, for the most part of their lives crabs keep their hard form, and the soft stage is a very short period of their moult cycle.
The project aims to develop cost effective methodologies to commercially produce soft green crabs. Experimental aquaculture systems and several experimental trials will be performed to induce shedding both through external stimulation (i.e. temperature, photoperiod, anoxia, hypercapnia, etc.) and internal stimulation (hormonal and chemical control). Reducing the rate of soft crab shell hardening will allow another approach to increase the availability and time span of soft green crabs.