Moules-frites in danger: Spider crabs wreak havoc on French mussel population

Warming sea temperatures are bringing more spider crabs to France's coastline, which could spell disaster for the French mussel industry.

Moules-frites in danger: Spider crabs wreak havoc on French mussel population
Mussels are seen on the Normandy coast north-western France. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

You may not be able to see it from land, but underwater, an invasive species of spider crabs are ravaging the mussel population on the Western coast of France.

In Normandy and Brittany, mussel farmers are struggling to control the expanding spider crab population – which normally migrates onward, but has stayed put on France’s coasts.

Experts believe the crabs, who feast on mussels and all manner of shellfish, have not continued in their migration due to warming water temperatures, as a result of the climate crisis.

This has left French mussel farmers worried that if the crab population is not controlled, then mussel production could end in the region within a decade. 

Some mussel farmers, like David Dubosco, have lost a significant amount of mussels in just the last year. Dubosco told TF1 that in 2022 he lost at least 150 tonnes.

(You can listen to The Local France team discuss the future of moules-frites in our new podcast episode below. Just press play or download it here for later.)

Dubosco is not alone in his experience. According to reporting by TF1, production across the board will be lower this year 2022, which means that the number of mussels imported from other countries will likely increase, a decision that will not be popular with French consumers who prefer homegrown mussels to make the classic moules-frites.

The proliferation of the spider crabs has been an ongoing problem for the last six years, but due to warming waters, more and more have stayed in French waters.

The crabs do not have many predators besides humans – as they are edible, but the supply has begun to outweigh demand. Additionally, the crabs have grown so big that traditional cages used to trap them are no longer effective, according to Actu France.

On September 21st, over 80 mussel producers staged a demonstration in front of the Manche préfecture in Saint-Lô to demand further measures against this invasive species.

“We have seen the proliferation of spider crabs and our alerts have gone unheeded by the administrative authorities. The species comes to feed on our stocks,” said Vincent Godefroy, head of the “Group of mussel farmers on bouchot” (Groupement des mytiliculteurs sur bouchot) to Actu France. 

In response, the Manche prefecture met with six representatives from the group, eventually publishing a a statement saying it would allow “for the experimentation of new measures” to combat the crabs, which would include dragging them out to sea.

Additionally, government actors and mussel farmers will work together this autumn to conduct a study on the economic value of spider crabs with goals of building up a new industry. The assessment will be made in November.

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France to begin phasing out paper receipts for shoppers

A new French anti-waste law is set to go into effect in the new year, and it could spell the end of paper sales receipts in l'Hexagone.

France to begin phasing out paper receipts for shoppers

If you live in France, or are planning to visit in the new year, you might find your pockets or the bottom of your purse a bit emptier, as the country is doing away with automatically printed receipts (cash register tickets).

As part of a French anti-waste law voted on in 2020, the new regulation, which comes into effect January 1st, 2023, aims to fight “against the dangerous substances present in cash register tickets” and “to remedy the significant waste that these tickets represent,” according to the French government website Service-Public.

According to Service-Public, there are at least 30 billion sales receipts printed each year, creating lots of waste.

Parts of the anti-waste law have already come into effect, outlawing things like single-use plastic cutlery and coffee and cups and limiting packaging on food.

READ MORE: How France’s new anti-waste laws will affect you

The new rules regarding receipts will apply broadly, according to Ouest France, “both large and medium sized stores” across France, as well as “any establishment receiving the public where receipts are issued” will have to respect the anti-waste regulation.

This also includes vending machines and bank card tickets as well, according to Service-Public.

Customers can, however, still request a printed receipt if they would like one. 

Additionally, those who want a record of what they purchased or how much it cost can also request a non-printed receipt – either in the form of an email, text message, or perhaps on their online profile with the store (if they hold a loyalty card).

As for companies’ perspectives, the “Federation of Commerce and Distribution” told Ouest France that French businesses were not “asking for this law,” but “are keen to respect [it]” and that they are committed to reducing their environmental impact.

READ MORE: From takeways to coffee cups: Here’s what France’s new anti-waste law means

Helpful vocabulary

Receipt – ticket de caisse, un reçu

Non-printed receipt/ e-ticket – ticket de caisse dématérialisé

Waste – Gaspillage

Could I please have a receipt printed? – Est-ce que je pourrais avoir un reçu imprimé ?

Could I please have a receipt by text message? Est-ce que je pourrais avoir le ticket de caisse par SMS ? 

Could I please have a receipt by email? – Est-ce que je pourrais avoir le ticket de caisse par mail ? 

I have a loyalty card. Could you please upload the receipt to the online portal/ application? J’ai une l carte de fidélité. Est-ce que vous pouvez envoyer le ticket de caisse dans mon espace personnel dans l’application ?