Invasive green crabs continue to spread in Washington state, Lummi Nation declares disaster

Polarbear

The European green crab is a small shore crab whose native distribution is in the northeast Atlantic Ocean and Baltic Sea. The species arrived by clinging to sailing ships to the Cape Cod region in the early 1800s. The invasive crab was first discovered in Washington state in 1998 in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor.

Green crabs are known to be voracious eaters which use their claws to crush up anything that might be edible thus posing a threat to Washington's native shellfish. They don't have any known natural predators in the state.

Last Month, the Lummi Indian Business Council declared a disaster as more than 70,000 crabs were found in the Lummi sea pond compared to just 3,000 the previous year. They have requested Gov. Jay Inslee to declare his own emergency to free up additional funding for the removal of crabs from the pond. Lummi Nation chairman William Jones Jr. said:

They'll eat everything and anything, and they don't have any predators in the pond. The European crustacean is known for damaging all sorts of other species. The clams, the oysters, the salmon, the eelgrass, the different things that we've been protecting for thousands of years. We're a fishing nation, The families survive off the sea and we need to protest that.

Currently, the best strategy as per scientists, once the species has been confirmed at a site, is aggressive trapping and removal. Washington Sea Grant’s Crab Team, a group of more than 200 volunteers and professionals who systematically set crab traps in bays and estuaries has found some success in reducing the population through the trapping method.

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