European Green Crab Quarterly Progress Report – Winter 2022


Published: March 1, 2023

Pages: 44

Executive Summary

In response to the legislative budget proviso directive in ESSB 5693 (2022 c 297), this report has been authored as the second in a series of ongoing quarterly progress reports (Q2). This report will serve to outline the successes and challenges of ongoing European green crab (EGC) emergency response efforts in Washington state from October 1 to December 31, 2022. In addition, this report will put the work during Q2 in the context of the work completed in Q1 (March 1 to September 30, 2022).

The Q1 report (European Green Crab Quarterly Progress Report – Fall 2022) is available at: and on WDFW’s European green crab webpage.

In 2021, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), tribal co-managers, and partners identified an exponential increase of invasive European green crab (EGC), Carcinus maenas, in the Lummi Nation’s Sea Pond within the Salish Sea, and in outer coastal areas including Grays Harbor, Makah Bay, and Willapa Bay. On Dec. 14, 2021, WDFW Director Susewind submitted an emergency measures request under RCW 77.135.090 for EGC response to Governor Jay Inslee. On Jan. 19, 2022, Governor Jay Inslee issued an emergency proclamation (#22-02) to address the exponential increase in EGC populations across Washington’s marine shorelines. The proclamation directed WDFW to eradicate, reduce, or contain EGC in Washington. The Washington State Legislature approved $8,568,000 in emergency funding during the 2022 Supplemental Budget to facilitate increased EGC management efforts.

An Incident Command System (ICS) was then established to deal with the complexities of the EGC management effort. Support for and coordination with our partners and tribal co-managers is essential, as the scale of the EGC emergency is such that no one entity could ever hope to implement successful statewide management strategies alone. Washington Sea Grant (WSG), the Lummi Nation, the Makah Tribe, the Shoalwater Bay Tribe, shellfish growers and various other entities have continued their ongoing efforts managing EGC populations, closely coordinating with WDFW. The ICS also resulted in the creation and distribution of various updates including reports to the governor every 10 days and Situation Reports (SitReps) based on operational periods (bi-weekly September and October, then monthly in November and December) to provide information on and ensure transparency regarding management actions taken, grant funding allocations, EGC catch numbers, trapping efforts, media outreach, and other relevant information. These Situation Reports were synthesized for the public, media, and other external audiences in EGC Public Updates published in October and bi-monthly for November/December distributed through WDFW’s EGC Management Updates email list as well as Department webpages, communications, and social media channels.

Representatives from most entities participating in EGC management have joined the ICS Multi-Agency Coordination (MAC) group. The MAC group provides a forum for these representatives to share information, establish a common operating picture, develop long-term priorities for the EGC emergency, and commit and allocate funding and other resources to enhance emergency measures responses. In Q2, the EGC MAC group continued to meet and review/recommend new Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) EGC Emergency Measures Fund request for proposals. In addition, the EGC MAC group continued development of the Fiscal Year 2023 EGC Emergency Measures Strategic Action Plan, including establishing priority tasks to be addressed (this plan has since been completed and distributed).

Actions taken in Q2 were reduced in comparison to Q1 with the end of many entities’ EGC trapping seasons. However, trapping continued in several areas resulting in the removal of EGC until the end of 2022. Pass-through funding and allocation of equipment provided support for tribal co-managers and partners. Increased communication efforts (e.g., public updates, EGC Management Updates email list, numerous online resources for identification and reporting) and focused outreach (e.g., signage and outreach materials, public presentations, tabling at events including the Pacific Marine Expo) have enhanced public awareness and EGC reporting potential.

During the Q2 period, the collective effort of all organizations involved in EGC management resulted in the removal of 96,156 additional EGC from Washington state marine waters, with 67,615 from the Coastal Branch and 5,154 from the Salish Sea Branch. In total for calendar year 2022, there were 286,444 EGC removed from Washington state marine waters, with 205,433 removed from the Coast Branch and 81,011 removed from the Salish Sea Branch. In addition to active removal trapping, Q2 trap deployment occurred in areas where EGC had not previously been detected for early-detection monitoring. To date, EGC have not been detected in the Salish Sea Branch south of northern Hood Canal. Data on EGC abundance, body size, sex ratios, and reproductive status were collected along with DNA and RNA samples to assess connectivity between EGC populations. Analysis of this data will be provided in subsequent quarterly reports after compilation and quality assurance measures implemented.

WDFW, tribal co-managers, and partners achieved significant progress in EGC management efforts in a short timeframe. Progress was also made on public education and community engagement to support EGC awareness, with many attendees at outreach events such as the Pacific Marine Expo reporting they had heard about EGC in the news or from the state, tribes, or partners, and now have a baseline of understanding about this invasive species, why it is harmful, and that emergency measures have been deployed for EGC monitoring and control. While challenges remain (e.g., implementing standardized electronic trapping data submission, hiring staff and transition into Fiscal Year 2023 Strategic Action Plan), the continued efforts of all parties and the clear organizational structure set in 2022 will allow for continued success in the coming year.

Suggested citation

Turner B, Pleus A, Gunnell C. 2022. European Green Crab Quarterly Progress Report – Winter 2022. Olympia, WA: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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