Invasive crayfish at Lake Tahoe could become an economic boon by the end of summer. At least that's what Fred Jackson is hoping for. He has spent two years studying the invasive crayfish problem there and creating the Tahoe Lobster Company. His plan is to harvest the crayfish and sell them to local restaurants as a new tourist draw.
Crayfish have overpopulated in the past few decades. And commercial fishing at the lake has literally eliminated their natural predators. As a result, they now estimate some 220-million crayfish there. Those crayfish fertilize algae that effects the clarity of the lake. Removing them would be an environmental favor.
"It's a win-win-win no matter how you look at it," says Fred Jackson who created the Tahoe Lobster Company. "We clear out the crayfish and clear up the lake. Then we sell the crayfish to local restaurants. That creates jobs fishing, jobs at restaurants and hopefully creates a draw for tourists to the area."
But Jackson has also partnered with UNR to track where the crayfish are, and how removing them effects the lake.
"There's no way we could eradicate the crayfish, but we can catch what we can and make money on them," Jackson said.
The 'catch' has been the permitting process. To sell them commercially in Nevada requires a $500 permit. And to have them live in a restaurant also requires a $500 permit. That is a steep price for some to pay.
Jim Crowell owns the Sierra Gold Seafood company. He would be the distributor.
"We have seen a lot of excitement about them. We know there are large ones in the lake and that they are very tasty. Everyone wants to sell them and everyone wants to have an exclusive on them. It's great!" he says.
The two companies are working together to try and change the permitting for restaurants. And they are hoping to have all the permits in place to start the operation in a few short weeks.