Crawfish, Red Swamp

Procambarus clarkii

Method of production — Farmed
Production country — US Southern states
Production method — Extensive pond and rice paddy
Picture of Crawfish, Red Swamp

Sustainability rating one info

Sustainability overview

The US Southern States are a large producer of crayfish most of which is farmed for domestic consumption. It is a naturally occurring wild species whose stock status is stable, however as crayfish brood their young farming does not require the collection of wild stocks. Farms are usually sited in areas of low sensitivity and the production of crayfish does not require chemical or feed inputs. US farmed red swamp crayfish is a sustainable farmed seafood choice.

Feed Resources

Criterion Score: 6

Crawfish area non fed species that rely upon a natural occurring diet.


Environmental Impacts

Criterion Score: 2

In general crawfish performs well environmentally as they require no feed or chemical inputs, don’t deplete freshwater supplies and rely on naturally settling juveniles for on-growing. However diseases are noted in the species but are known not to be widespread. Escapes can and do occur and this is a problem outside of their natural range of distribution.


Fish Health and Welfare

Criterion Score: 1

Welfare and slaughter criteria do not apply to crawfish.



Criterion Score: 1

Overall management is sufficient as regulations are in place and enforced as far as is known. They is no strategic environmental planning system in place that incorporates crawfish production, there is also no independent certification of the species.


Production method

Extensive pond and rice paddy

The red swamp crayfish are farmed in agricultural ponds or in rotation with a crop, usually rice. After harvesting the crop the land is flooded to create a pond in which the crayfish grow.


A member of the Cambaridae family, the Red Swamp Crawfish is commonly found in warm, fresh water. This is considered to be an “ecologically plastic” species as it can grow quickly even in areas with dry periods lasting up to four months. The average lifespan is five years and in this time weights of over 50g and lengths of 5 to 12cm can be reached. This is an omnivorous species feeding on insects, larvae and detritus. Sexually mature from 6cm the females dig burrows to lay their eggs in and will protect the young for eight weeks. Recent research suggests that the females may be able to reproduce through parthenogenesis.


FAO 2007-2018. Cultured Aquatic Species Information Programme. Procambarus clarkii. Cultured Aquatic Species Information Programme. Text by McClain, W.R.; Romaire R.P. In: FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department [online]. Rome. Updated 13 January 2007. Accessed 05/09/2018

New England Aquarium. Ocean Friendly Seafood. Crayfish. Available online at:: Accesed 05/03/2015

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Seafood Watch: Farmed Crayfish report.Available online at Accessed 05/09/2018