Crawfish harvest keeps Lake Tahoe blue, feeds locals

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Updated: 8/25/2012 5:52 pm
SPARKS, Nev. (KRNV & -- It may not be Mardi Gras, but the Legends at Sparks Marina has an extra taste of Louisiana fare today at the 2nd Annual Crawfish Festival, and this year they're offering local crawfish.

"Our business is clarity by cuisine, so the more these locals consume the crawfish, the better it is for the lake and it's just an awesome deal," said Fred Jackson, owner of Tahoe Lobster Company.

Jackson's business is removing crawfish - an invasive species - from Lake Tahoe.

"Initially I said you're crazy," said Justin Pulliam, Jackson's nephew and company chief operating officer. "About a year into it I said okay let's do it."

Nevada state law used to prevented a business like this from forming.

"It said you couldn't have any sales of crawfish from Lake Tahoe, so we asked why," Jackson said. "And now we're here. They couldn't answer why."

Jackson says they couldn't have done it without the help of UNR Associate Professor Sudeep Chandra.

"Keeping the lake clear or blue is inherently tied to the biology that's in the system, and so trying to keep the system in balance with native species versus those non- native species is absolutely critical," Chandra said.

So far they've harvested about 35-50 thousand crawfish and not only does it help to keep Lake Tahoe blue, it also helps the local economy.

"It's just kind of a win win for everyone," said Vic Allred, owner of Jazz a Louisiana Kitchen. "The environmentalists are happy. The businessment are happy."

Allred featured the tahoe crawish at Jazz's 2nd Annual Crawfish Festival - just two days after they were harvested.

"This year we're serving live crawfish straight out of Lake Tahoe," Allred said. "We're so excited about it."  

The customers seem excited too. That response combined with a year-round harvesting season means the guys at Tahoe Lobster Company have their work cut out for them.

"I see this business exploding really," Pulliam said. "It's going to expand and we're going to be working night and day pretty much."

"Well we're going to need a bigger boat," Jackson said. "It sounds like "Jaws" but we're going to need a bigger boat that's for sure and this spring we'll be hiring folks to team up with myself and Justin and my wife, and go out and start learning the business and start fishing with us." 

If you'd like to give the Tahoe crawfish a try, the crawfish festival outside of Jazz is open until 8p.m.
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