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July 21, 1998
Contact: Jeff Weathersby, (360) 902-2256

Green crabs found in Grays Harbor

ABERDEEN -- Green crabs, a non-native species which threatens Washington shellfish, have been found in Grays Harbor, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced today.

The capture of 11 green crabs today by WDFW personnel in Grays Harbor represents the northernmost invasion by the crabs, which are native to Europe and North Africa.

As a result of today's findings, WDFW will set traps in Puget Sound to determine if the species has expanded into other marine areas of Washington. Green crabs last month were found last month in Willapa Bay. No other coastal areas offer the protected rocky shores, sandflats and tidal marshes in which the crabs thrive.

The crab's versatility and ability to open shells make it a major threat to Washington clams, oysters and mussels.

WDFW recently passed emergency regulations that make it illegal to possess or transport green crabs in Washington. WDFW also has taken steps to control the transfer of shellfish and equipment used in the shellfish industry from Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor.