Emergency measures to control invasive European green crabs underway

WDFW – The WDFW says that deployment of emergency measures to control invasive European green crabs on the Washington Coast and at sites within the Salish Sea are underway.

They say that includes the implementation of an Incident Command System to facilitate statewide coordination between various agencies, tribes, and partners.

The WDFW says European green crab (Carcinus maenas) is a globally damaging invasive species that poses a threat to native shellfish, eelgrass, and estuary habitat critical for salmon and many other species.

The Washington State Legislature appropriated over $8.5 million in funding for European green crab emergency measures in the 2022 Supplemental Operating Budget.

Three boats, nearly a dozen new employees, and more than 700 specialized traps have been deployed this spring, with more on the way.

The WDFW says that through the efforts of their Aquatic Invasive Species staff, the Lummi Nation, Makah Tribe, Shoalwater Bay Tribe, Willapa-Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association, and other tribes, agencies, and partners, more than 64,000 European green crabs have been removed from Washington waters in 2022 as of June 11.

The WDFW is also implementing a European Green Crab Coastal Management Grant Program to be disbursed by the Pacific and Grays Harbor County conservation districts, with $675,000 in funding available for local, non-profit, or private entities that seek to conduct green crab removal. 

At this time, WDFW is not asking the public to keep or kill suspected green crabs because they can be mistaken for native crabs.

On Jan. 19, 2022, Governor Jay Inslee issued emergency proclamation 22-02 to address the exponential increase in European green crab populations detected within the Lummi Nation’s Sea Pond and outer coast areas. The order directed WDFW to begin implementation of emergency measures to prevent the crab’s permanent establishment and expansion.

The Legislature and Governor had previously provided WDFW $783,000 in a one-time proviso in 2020 and $2.3 million in ongoing funding in 2021 to control European green crabs, but the amounts were not sufficient to control growing infestations.

Under the emergency order, regular updates are posted on this webpage. A European Green Crab Management Updates email list sign-up is also now available at wdfw.wa.gov/about/lists

European green crab are classified as a Prohibited Level 1 Invasive Species in Washington, meaning they may not be possessed, introduced on or into a water body or property, or trafficked, without department authorization, a permit, or as otherwise provided by rule.

Beachgoers, anglers, recreational crabbers, and others are asked not to tamper with European green crab traps, which are often deployed in shallow areas exposed at low tide and are typically identified with a bright orange buoy and an official tag or permit.

More information is available at: https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/invasive/carcinus-maenas