Nearly 70,000 invasive green crabs were caught in Washington State last fall | Smart News
Washington state is taking emergency action to combat an infestation of European green crabs, an invasive species that has seen an “exponential increase” in local waterways. Last fall, more than 70,000 crabs were captured and removed from the Lummi Nation marine pond near the Canadian border.
To combat the spread of the species, Washington Governor Jay Inslee issued an emergency order that includes nearly $9 million in funding, reports Natasha Brennan for the Bellingham Herald. The order directs the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to implement measures to attempt to eradicate the crabs, which have taken hold in the Lummi Sea Pond and outer coastal areas, according to the Associated Press.
“The European green crab is a globally harmful invasive species which, if permanently established, will particularly harm endangered species, affect resources that are part of the cultural identity of tribes and indigenous peoples and will affect small businesses,” the Inslee office said. said in a statement.
Despite their name, European green crabs sport a variety of colors. Their shells can appear dark brown to dark green, with yellow or orange spots, especially on the underside, legs and claws. Adult crabs are usually about 2.5 inches long and are able to survive in a wide range of water temperatures.
European green crabs, native to Europe and North Africa, likely hitched a ride on European ships in the mid-1800s, according to CNN’s Katie Hunt. After the crustaceans arrived on the U.S. East Coast, they are credited with destroying Maine’s clam industry over the past decade, according to the Bellingham Herald. The crabs were first found on the west coast of San Francisco Bay in 1989. Then El Niño currents carried the crabs west to California, Oregon, Washington and Columbia. British in the late 1990s.
Today I issued an emergency order regarding the exponential increase in the European population of green crab, a globally harmful invasive species, in the Lummi Nation Marine Pond and outer coastal areas .
More details: https://t.co/cgzgUagDJXhttps://t.co/DgMllabLyz
— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) January 19, 2022
In the Pacific Northwest, crabs are often found along muddy coastal habitats and estuaries where they are protected from large predators. Because green crabs feed on clams and young oysters, as well as other crabs of their own size, they can disrupt habitats, drive out native species, and harm local economies and cultural traditions.
“Potential impacts [of the species] include destruction of eelgrass beds and estuarine marsh habitats, threats to wild shellfish harvesting and the shellfish farming industry, Dungeness crab fishing, salmon recovery, and a complex array of ecological impacts on food webs,” according to the Washington Department of Fish. and Fauna.
Although the state took steps to control the infestation in 2019, native tribes have highlighted the growing threat that invasive species pose to tribal cultural and economic interests, reports Shirin Ali for The hill. The Lummi Indian Business Council and the Makah Tribe were among the first to identify the recent green crab population boom, according to the governor’s emergency order.
The Lummi Nation has been trying to remove the invasive crabs since several dozen were discovered in 2019, but the problem has since worsened.
“Warming water temperatures due to climate change have only made things worse,” Lummi Nation President William Jones Jr. said in a November press release. “If steps are not taken to contain and reduce the problem, we will see this invasive species spread further into Lummi Bay and adjacent areas of the Salish Sea.”