My first thought upon arriving at the lecture venue was to wonder if I had made a mistake. For instead of a lecture theater I saw a large function room with 3 lines of sofa. The crowd was not what I had expected it to be. It was a gathering comprising of chiefly middle aged to elderly people. There was even a buffet, with people mingling about with familiarity, creating a feeling that this was a social event at a club, rather than a lecture. The net result was that I ended up being terribly out of place, and simply found myself a seat and waited for the talk to start, resisting a tempting bottle of wine at the table.
The lecture started with an advertisement for science center membership. For only 40 dollars a year, you can get free food at such lectures.
The lecture itself was quite simplistic. There was almost no hard science involved, apart from the migratory habits and life cycle of the hairy crab. Most of the lecture was about the various ways that the population of the crabs could be reduced (advantages and disadvantages of each method), the way they collected their data (hiring a fishermen and recording the catch over period of time at different areas, survey of power plants…), data analysis (comparing the number of catches over time, location, methods of catching, and comparing it to their life cycle) and sourced their funding (environmental agencies), the laws that need to be passed, etc. What science there was mainly involved the testing of crabs for heavy metals that would possibly render the consumption of these crabs unsafe. There was little explanation as to what exactly are the ecological impacts of the Eriocheir sinensis has on the environment except references that it was a huge pest and invasive species and bad for the environmental in general.
In other words, the lecture focused on the solution, not the problem. The lecture concluded that commercial exploitation of the crabs was the best method to control their populations, gave recommendations to the methods used (nets with holes to prevent impact to other species, particularly eels), time periods (June-August, before the egg-laying season, where the crabs taste best) and such things. The end result was a report on feasibility presented to London’s fishing authority. That’s all they can do, it would need some third party vendor to see this venture as profitable and set up a business around it.
-10S7D Li Anjie