Gov. Jay Inslee issued an emergency order to address the exponential increase in the European green crab population within the Lummi Nation’s Sea Pond and outer coast areas, including Grays Harbor, Willapa Bay, and Makah Bay.
According to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, European green crab were first discovered in Washington in 1998 in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor.
Since 2016, green crabs have been detected in Padilla Bay, Sequim Bay, and the Dungeness Spit, and in the San Juan Islands.
The European green crab first became established the United States in the mid 1800s, arriving by sailing ship to the Cape Cod region. In the early 1900s they spread northwards, where they are believed to have contributed to the dramatic declines in the soft shell clam fishery as far north as Nova Scotia. In 1989, green crabs were discovered on the West Coast, in San Francisco Bay, and made it into Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia estuaries in the late 1990s helped by strong El Nino currents.
The European green crab is a globally-damaging invasive species that, if they become permanently established, will particularly harm endangered species, impact resources that are part of the cultural identity of the tribes and native peoples, and affect small businesses.
The emergency order directs the Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to begin implementation of emergency measures, as necessary, to effect the eradication of or to prevent the permanent establishment and expansion of the European green crab.
The order also directs the Department of Ecology to, and requests that the Department of Natural Resources and the State Parks and Recreation Commission, identify European green crab management as a high priority on their respective state-owned aquatic lands and to facilitate implementing emergency measures. Finally, the order urges the Legislature to provide additional emergency funding as requested by the WDFW as soon as possible.
The order is effective immediately and will remain in effect until rescinded.