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Incidental Aquaculture in California's Rice Paddies: Red Swamp Crawfish


  • The author would like to thank four of his former students: Danny Blake, who spurred him to research the red swamp crawfish and who collaborated with him in the field; Mike Commons, who organized landing-receipt data and created the initial drafts of the map that accompanies this manuscript; Ryan Ford, who refined the map; and Jake Nicholas, who allowed the author to accompany him on a Department of Fish and Game surveillance of the rice fields. Finally, the author expresses his appreciation to the fishermen who patiently answered his questions, showed him their trade, and sold him crawfish.


Introduction of the red swamp crawfish, Procambarus clarkii, into California and its diffusion throughout northern California's rice paddies created the conditions for an incidental aquaculture economy in a landscape devoted to irrigated grain production. For more than three decades, fishermen have harvested this prolific invader and sold their catch to Europe and the Gulf Coast. Since 2004, the diffusion of Vietnamese-American seafood restaurants to California and nationally has created additional markets for red swamp crawfish.