Whether wild or farmed, Louisiana crawfish are harvested from freshwater habitats, well away from coastal areas. As a result, the potential for problems related to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is nonexistent for this popular seafood product, and no spill-related effects are anticipated, said Greg Lutz, an aquaculture specialist with the LSU AgCenter.
“A large portion of Louisiana’s crawfish aquaculture is practiced in conjunction with rice production,” Lutz said. “Crawfish farming fits well into many existing farm operations by using agricultural lands, crop rotations and permanent farm labor and equipment during off-peak farming periods.”
Farm-raised crawfish production in Louisiana was valued at nearly $116 million on the farm, and wild crawfish fisheries contributed more than $9 million at the dock to the state economy in 2009, according to the LSU AgCenter Ag Summary report.
Farm-raised crawfish have won praise from a number of environmental organizations for their sustainability and high quality. Crawfish farming relies on a natural food chain, based on vegetation planted and grown during the summer, and fresh water from deep wells or natural sources such as rivers, bayous and distribution canals.
“Additionally, t he natural wetland processes that are typical of crawfish production ponds result in tremendous benefits for watersheds and wildlife,” Lutz said. “For these reasons and more, U.S. farm-raised crawfish are recognized as a ‘Best Choice’ by the Monterey Bay Aquarium on their ‘Seafood Watch’ list.”
Crawfish are nutritious and easy to prepare, and they taste great, said LSU AgCenter nutritionist Beth Reames.
Even though frying or preparing crawfish in rich sauces add extra calories and fat, crawfish are an excellent source of high-quality protein and a good source of vitamin B12, niacin, iron, copper and selenium.
Although crawfish and other shellfish are higher in cholesterol than meat, poultry or fish – a 3-ounce serving has 116 milligrams of cholesterol – they are low in fat, saturated fat and trans fat, she said.