Emergency Measures Deployed for Invasive Green Crabs

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Emergency Measures Deployed for Invasive Green Crabs

Emergency measures have been deployed to control the invasive European green crabs in the waters of the Washington Coast and sites within the Salish

Emergency Measures Deployed for Invasive Green Crabs

Emergency measures have been deployed to control the invasive European green crabs in the waters of the Washington Coast and sites within the Salish Sea. This includes the implementation of an Incident Command System (ICS) to facilitate coordination between various agencies, tribes, and partners across the state.

The Washington State Emergency Management Division, as of April 18th, 2022, assigned a formal mission of dealing with the invasive European green crab. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife held a meeting with other state and federal agencies after which, WDFW Director Kelly Susewind formally implemented the ICS strategy on May 5th by delegating Allen Pleus to serve as Incident Commander.

The European green crab (Carcinus maenas) is an invasive species that arrived in the US on the east coast in the middle of the 1800s in European ship ballast water. Since arriving in the Cape Cod area the species has spread northward causing ecological and economic damage along the way. The green crabs were then found to have spread to San Francisco Bay in 1989 and now have spread north along the west coast as well. These crabs pose a threat to native shellfish, eelgrass, and critical estuary habitat.

Governor Jay Inslee issued emergency proclamation 22-02 in January to address the exponential increase of European green crab populations detected in Lummi Nation’s Sea Pond and other coastal areas. This order directed WDFW to begin the implementation of emergency measures to prevent the crab’s permanent establishment and expansion in Washington waters.

The Washington State Legislature appropriated $8.568 million in funding for European green crab emergency measures in the 2022 Supplemental Operating Budget, which was signed on March 31. This was at the behest of Governor Inslee, WDFW, Washington Invasive Species Council, several Native American tribes, and other state and non-governmental partners.

European green crab identification 2022
European Green Crab Identification Guide Photo Courtesy of WDFW

If a member of the public finds a suspected European green crab or its shell in Washington, they are asked to take a picture and report it as soon as possible. Crab identification guides and an online reporting form are available at

If you find a suspected European green crab or a shell in Washington, the WDFW asks for you to take a picture and report it as soon as possible. Crab ID guides along with an online reporting form are available here at wdfw.wa.gov/greencrab.

You can also submit reports using the WA Invasives app or by contacting [email protected].

As of now, WDFW is not asking the public to keep or kill possible green crabs due to the chance of native species of crabs being mistaken for green crabs. The public is also asked not to tamper with European green crab traps. These traps are identified with a bright orange buoy and an official tag or permit. These traps are often deployed in shallow areas that are exposed at low tide.

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