Project aimed at preserving our endemic freshwater crab

Nature Trust Malta and the Aquaculture Directorate have released the first juvenile freshwater crabs, as part of a project aimed at studying the environment in which this crab lives. The ultimate goal of the project is to help identify the best ways to preserve the habitat of this endemic species called ‘Qabru.’

The ‘qabru’ freshwater crab is found in the Maltese islands and we have a species found in Malta and a species found in Gozo.

The President of Nature Trust Malta, Vince Attard, said that this is a rare species because it lives all year round where there is fresh water.

He explained that with climate change it is in danger of disappearing. Nature Trust Malta together with the Aquaculture Directorate are carrying out a three-year project with the aim of preventing this crab from disappearing from the Maltese islands.

“In fact we are working on the species in Bahrija where we collected small crabs from the mother, which are now in the aquarium. We released the mother and we started to raise these, to see how they act in the wild. In fact we have already released over 50 crabs, now there are 15 whose movements we will also study so that we can move on to the third phase of the project.
The third phase is to see what we need to do to so that this crab’s environment is also protected because the crab does not live alone, it lives in the environment and its natural environment needs special protection. ”

Mr Attard went on to say that through this project, even if the crabs start to decline drastically from the Maltese islands, this species will be able to grow and then be released into the wild.

“A project similar to this is that of the Maltese Freshwater fish (killifish) which we are currently carrying out in the south of Malta which has already borne much fruit and therefore through this project together with scientists and the Department of Aquaculture, we hope will see an increase in this crab if need be, so that it is not destroyed by the Maltese islands. ”

Even before we adopted the Euro, the crab was represented on the 5 cent coin. Through this Nature Trust/ Aquaculture Directorate project which has found the support of HSBC Malta Foundation, the public will be given information about the crab and the threat that it faces due to climate change.