Invasive European green crab emergency continues in Washington

In a new report, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) found that the European green crab emergency persists and advises that all measures to eradicate the invasive species should continue. 

On January 19, 2022, Governor Jay Inslee issued Emergency Proclamation 22-02 which ordered the WDFW "to begin implementation of emergency measures as necessary to effect the eradication of or to prevent the permanent establishment and expansion of European green crab."

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With $8.568 million in funding, the WDFW implemented an Incident Command System (ICS) structure to facilitate a statewide European green crab (EGC) management strategy. They have been working with tribes, other state and federal agencies, shellfish growers and private tidelands owners to establish a coordinated response.

According to the WDFW, more than 64,000 European green crabs have been removed from Washington waters this year, as of June 11. 

The WDFW says they continue to receive reports from the public of native crab species misidentified as invasive European green crabs. The department calls on the public to photograph and report suspected EGCs but asks that they return the crab unharmed to the water where it was found.

According to WDFW’s website, European green crabs are a globally damaging invasive species that pose a threat to Washington's economic, environmental, and cultural resources. Potential impacts include destruction of eelgrass beds and estuarine marsh habitats, threats to the shellfish industry, the Dungeness crab fishery, salmon recovery, and other ecological impacts to food webs.

European green crabs thrive in shallow water and soft sediment, which Washington’s estuaries provide. And over the past two years it seems the populations of green crab are exploding, especially on the coast.